Sometimes it just boggles me to think about the sheer number of things that toxic Christians do to annoy everyone around themselves and hurt their own goals.
Today I’ll show you some of the things that particular bunch of Christians do that drive home their awfulness. And I don’t mean the low-hanging fruit like “bless your heart,” gloating about hell, or the eternally-creeptastic “Daddy God” nonsense. Rather, I mean the more subtle nastiness that they think is terribly clever but actually backfires on them–the stuff that totally mortifies their kinder, more compassionate Christian brethren (who are a lot more like us than they may realize). I’m guessing that non-believers ain’t the only ones who are about out of patience with those bad apples running around pissing in everyone’s Froot Loops!
In short, I’m feeling super-helpful here. And I’ve got a few friends to help me talk about these all-too-common offenses!
1. Dictating my life and opinions to me.
Translation: “I know your story much better than you do. Here, let me tell you some things about you that you didn’t know!”
I honestly had no idea that I just wanted to sin. I didn’t even know that my deconversion happened not because I found out that Christians’ truth claims aren’t true but that I was actually angry at the Christian god for not giving me a pony and a plastic rocket when I prayed. I didn’t even know I was praying for ponies and plastic rockets in the first place–how dense was I? Nor did I realize that I simply didn’t want to be “accountable” for all the terrible deeds I secretly totally wanted to commit.
Gosh, aren’t I lucky to have Christians around to tell me this stuff about myself?
The instant a Christian takes it upon him- or herself to start talking to me like that, the discussion is over. It’s that simple. Someone like that isn’t interested in real dialogue. They just want to feel validated at my expense. Plus, they get a really big rush out of imagining that a real live god is spoon-feeding them supernatural insight into other people’s motivations and pasts. They don’t appreciate us harshing their buzzes.
Unexpected outcome: I think about how wonderful it is to be out of a religion that encourages its adherents to gaslight people. On the plus side, learning to recognize religious gaslighting helps us learn to see it elsewhere.
2. Telling me they’ll pray for me.
Translation: “You’re so amazingly stupid that I can’t figure out how to change your mind using my words, so I’ll appeal to my invisible bully pal to magically change your mind against your will to make you more like me.”
A lot depends on how it’s said, who’s saying it, and what the situation is. I know that Christians inhabit a world where they get taught that this Christianese is a show of sympathy and comfort (in a similar way, they ask their Christian friends to “pray for me” when they want a little attention or comfort). They may not realize that non-believers often find this chirpy platitude grating. So I try to give those people a pass till they know better.
Usually I don’t have to wonder what the circumstances are, though. “I’ll pray for you!” gets lobbed as the final salvo to proselytization attempts that went horribly pear-shaped, making it obvious that what’s getting prayed for is for their god to strong-arm me into changing my mind.
Unexpected outcome: I remember that if prayer worked, then Christians wouldn’t need to tell anybody they were doing it.
3. Using words like “evolutionist” or “Darwinist” unironically.
Translation: “I have no idea what any of these big words mean.”
Ignoring the fact that lots of Christians are actually totally on board with the idea of evolution and other scientific concepts that fundagelicals officially hate, this one reminds me in a major way of just how anti-intellectual and ignorance-glorifying that crowd can be.
They have to leave reality itself at the door in order to make their religion’s claims sound credible. That’s pretty pathetic. No thanks–I’ll see myself out.
It’d do fundagelicals a world of good to stop trying to get into these conversations in the first place, but their culture has taught them (erroneously, unfortunately) that ripping science to bits will make people convert to their version of Christianity–and that Creationist pseudoscience is up to the task.
Unexpected outcome: I get really glad that I don’t have to deny reality itself in order to maintain my belief system.
3.5 Getting mad at me for expressing disapproval of their behavior.
Translation: “Quit reminding me that my opinions aren’t #1 anymore.”
Recently I saw a bigot-for-Jesus get angry on another blog because someone informed him that it’s hateful for bigoted Christian parents to throw a gay child out of the house–and he responded in a way that made clear that he really didn’t like that people refused to use his redefinition of “love.” He certainly wasn’t the only Christian there doing it, either. Such “loving” bigots-for-Jesus don’t appreciate being informed that their behavior isn’t loving or compassionate. And their general response is to get mad at their accusers.
It’s almost funny to watch such awful people whine about their intolerance not being tolerated. What they really don’t like is being reminded that they’re starting to lose some of their religious privilege. They don’t care what injuries they’re doing to anybody else; what really stings, to them, is being seen as something other than awesome. (Also: How in the world did this end up being a second 3?)
People whose entire agenda revolves around grabbing control of other people’s lives don’t have the right to get peevish about pushback. I don’t hassle Christians who keep their religious ideas to themselves and try their best to be truly compassionate people. (Live and let live!) But if someone tries to pecker-slap me in the face with overreach, then I’ve got every right in the world to say something about it.
Unexpected outcome: I always appreciate a timely heads-up about impending assholery.
4. Accusing me of worshiping myself/Charles Darwin/Richard Dawkins.
Translation: “I’m not really good at this whole ‘human empathy’ thing.”
This is part of the Law of Conservation of Worship. And it’s tiresome.
See, the whole idea of not believing in the supernatural is that I don’t worship anything. I don’t see any reason to worship something that doesn’t exist. Even if it did exist, then we’d have to talk about whether or not it deserves my worship. And yes, I totally get to evaluate whether or not something’s worthy of being worshiped by me–although Christians tend to visibly bristle at that idea.
Unexpected outcome: I start wondering if this person actually knows what worship is.
5. Telling me they have PROOF YES PROOF of their god’s existence.
Translation: “Out of two thousand years of this religion’s existence and billions of believers over those years (many numbering among humanity’s greatest minds), not one has come up with anything this good.”
For sure. They’ve come up with the slam-dunk evidence that no atheist, ever, can ever possibly refute or question or defy. Yes, they sure have! Nobody’s ever come up with anything close to this kind of proof.
This slam-dunk invariably takes the form of a rehashed, warmed-over variant of Pascal’s Wager or some other tired, long-debunked logical fallacy.
I wish they’d let Pascal get some rest. He needs it. The poor guy’s had such a workout over the years. He’s gotta be tuckered out.
Unexpected outcome: I am reminded anew of how little evidence there is for Christianity’s claims, if that’s the best “proof” these oh-so-fervent Christians can come up with.
6. Telling me they love me when it’s pretty damned clear that they don’t.
Translation: “Don’t you dare get in the way of my little self-congratulatory fantasy.”
Truly loving people have a really interesting little trick: they act in loving ways. We shouldn’t have to guess that someone’s being loving. And if the target of that affection doesn’t want the love being offered, then someone who really cares about them will respect that boundary and back off. (Otherwise, as Tim Minchin has said, what we have here is actually stalking, not love.)
One of the skeeviest things in the world is the sight of a person who’s just unloaded a boatload of vitriol, judgment, generalizations, control-grabs, condescension, and accusations at me, only to sanctimoniously inform me that he or she “loves” me.
No, they don’t.
And I can tell.
Moreover, I wouldn’t want their love even if they were sincere and not using it to try to assume the moral high ground over me. It’s creepy and weird.
Unexpected outcome: I wonder why a religion based around love seems to have so many adherents that have no idea what love is or how to express it.
7. Assuming I’ve never heard of (their take on) Christianity before.
Translation: “I go through life with the serene assurance that if I can only explain my particular quirky take on Christianity to people, then they’ll totally start believing too.”
Look. It’s This Current Year. The whole world pretty much knows about Christianity. And even most Christians know that, if their lack of enthusiasm for aggressive proselytizing is anything to go by. I know that a lot of them stress out over this exact situation because they’ve been taught that they must proselytize, but they don’t want to be irritating jerks at anybody. (And I appreciate that they usually come down on the side of “not being jerks.”)
I know that it’s all but a given in far-right Christian circles that the big problem they’re having is that non-believers just haven’t heard their particular version of the religion’s mythology, but that’s totally wrong. We probably know more about Christianity generally than most believers do. And a lot of us used to be believers ourselves–many for longer than the Christians proselytizing at us have been alive. But it’s just unthinkable to toxic Christians that we might totally understand their version of Christianity and still reject it.
Unexpected outcome: I assume that this person has not ever met any other right-wing talking point that he or she didn’t like.
BONUS ROUND: Loudly declaring that criticism = divine approval of what they’re doing.
Translation: “If Jesus approves of what I’m doing, that totally overrules anything my victims might say! And he approves. He approves completely. He always does.”
The more toxic the Christian, the more likely that person is to hold to this idea. There’s a certain horrifying arrogance to this thinking–as well as a total inability to respect other people’s rights. They know that if they start caring about consent, rights, and boundaries, then a lot of the abuse they actively enjoy doling out to other people will suddenly become off-limits to them. So they cut themselves off from all feedback and tell themselves pretty stories about why their overreach is being resisted and why they’re facing criticism.
But I’ve got something to tell them from the bottom of my heart: it’s not because “Jesus” loves them extra.
It’s because they’re assholes.
Feedback is how humans work together in groups. There’s a reason why it’s a bad thing for one person (or powerful group) to be “judge, jury, and executioner” over others. But Christian extremists have long seemed alarmingly attached to the idea of being a law unto themselves.
So Christians who embrace the idea of pushback meaning “do more of what you were doing except harder and more of it” are people who genuinely scare me.
Unexpected outcome: I take immediate and definitive steps to get away from people like this.
In the end, though, if they could stop doing this stuff, they wouldn’t be toxic, would they? I guess overall it’s not a bad thing that these folks are their own worst enemies.
Tag! It’s your turn!
The comments are right down there! What would you add to my list?