You’ll never, ever see Christian love like you will when his most fervent adherents discover a dissenter in their ranks. They think they’ve been commanded by the author of the entire universe to love their neighbors. But ugh, who wants to do that when there’s all that abuse they’d rather be doing? Loving people is all hard and stuff. Worse, real love doesn’t come with a permission slip to abuse others. So they redefine the word love to allow them to do the stuff they really wanted to do anyway. Here are the two ways that toxic Christians react when they realize that someone, somewhere has rejected their simple, universal human message of hatred, exclusion, cruelty, and unalloyed control-lust.
Public schools in the Deep South are about the worst place to be an atheist in America; I’ve heard atheist high school students say that they hear snide, sing-song stage-whispers of “Jesus lurrrrrves you!” as they walk down halls and that their stuff is vandalized with religious slogans, because nothing tells us we should check out a religion than being made to feel unsafe and alone and to have our stuff destroyed by fanatical zealots.
I’ve never once met someone who converted after facing such treatment, but I don’t seriously think that conversion is the goal anyway at this point. In the case of schoolchildren, these are Christian kids who have gotten the idea from their parents, spiritual leaders, peers, and media that what they’re doing is an acceptable way to treat other people.
It’s disheartening to imagine that these kids are growing up believing that abusing people can be seen as a loving deed; not only will it lead directly to those kids abusing their peers in school, but will lead to many of those same kids being abused themselves by others even more predatory than they are.
And this sneaky, snide bullying isn’t limited to their peers by any stretch; atheist schoolteachers in zealot-heavy areas face the same snide stage-whispers and property destruction.
What a Weird Way to Express Love.
Christians think that a god handed them their religion. They think this god creates pillars of fire in the sky, rains gamebirds and bread down for his hungry followers, destroys cities by fire and turns people to pillars of salt, and floods the whole world.
And yet this god tells his beloved children’s children to vandalize other people’s property and bully them in hallways.
Is this seriously what Christianity is coming to? And none of them even wonder why their religion relies on such underhanded, abusive tactics? There’s so little evidence for this religion’s claims that all they’ve got is threats and bullying.
Man, that has just got to suck.
What Bullying Tells the Whole World.
Every single time these schoolchildren taunt or threaten a non-believer or damage someone else’s property, those Christian kids inform the whole world that his or her religion is not a good, true, or valid religion.
And we need to make sure those kids are aware that they are proving their religion false every time they do this stuff.
Of course, they’re just using religion as an excuse to act extremely crappy toward their enemies. If it wasn’t religion, these bullies would be using something else to demonstrate their superiority and dominance over their victims. But they’ve been taught that religious orthodoxy is the fastest route to demonstrating their desired traits, so they use that for now.
And these same kids will go to church youth groups on Sunday and sing with tear-stained faces and toothy Jesus smiles about how much they love everybody. Then, they’ll go to school on Monday and spray-paint slogans on a wall where an atheist will see it and (even better!) have to clean it up. They do these awful things because–seriously, I’m not kidding here, this is the thought process going on–nothing tells non-believers to consider changing religions like being abused and bullied!
On the plus side, though, remember that most Christian kids pull away from the religion by the end of college. A big part of this behavior is likely just simple acting-out. It seems very likely to me that many of them will look back at how they treated outsiders and feel embarrassed by what they did.
Outright Abuse, Verbal and Physical Violence, and Threats.
The other tactic toxic Christians favor, of course, is outright abuse, verbal violence, and threats.
There’s a story going around in the news right now that probably has a lot of folks–even Christians–scrambling to Google and Snopes to find out if someone actually said something so amazingly abusive, mean-spirited, evil, and foul. But it really did happen.
A young “Bible-believing” pastor in New Zealand, Logan Robertson, wrote a shockingly hateful unsolicited message to a gay author advising him to commit suicide. In the letter, Robertson referring to his victim as “a filthy child-molesting fag.” He openly refers to other gay people in the same way. In the media outcry around the story, this bigot refused even to speak to gay journalists. His writings are filled with the worst sorts of slurs and stereotypes, issuing threats and worse for anybody who doesn’t fit his personal definition of a worthy human being.
He’s got the proper squinched-up preacher eyebrows and Jesus smile we see on the most toxic and hypocritical of Christians. With these accoutrement in place, he carefully explains that why yes, countries should follow the Bible’s command and execute all gay people. In fact, if they do, then he has prophesied that the entire disease of AIDS will be eradicated by Christmas.
Ain’t that a totally awesome thing for his god to promise through him?
Christian Rationalizations Around Their Abuse.
There’s nothing new to see here; Christian zealots have certainly threatened people before. Like most of them seem to do, when he’s confronted about the threat he made to a marginalized, oppressed person, this pastor backpedaled immediately by saying Oh no, you see, he didn’t outright threaten the guy himself; he just prayed for the guy to commit suicide.
I’m not sure what the goal was here. Is Logan Robertson admitting prayer doesn’t really do anything so he shouldn’t be penalized in any way for praying for something terrible to happen? Or is he saying that begging an even bigger bully to hurt someone for him isn’t in any way contributing to any damage that results?
Either way, it’s hard to fathom how people like him ever get the idea that Christians are more moral people than non-Christians. And he didn’t just pray for this gay author to commit suicide anyway. Rather, Robertson told the author that he was praying for him to commit suicide. So he didn’t face persecution for being having a shitty opinion. Instead, he faced penalties for spreading hate speech.
Abuse Only Escalates.
When bullies get older, they realize that simple teasing and snide taunts aren’t quite satisfying anymore. There’s a reason why abusers don’t tend to improve in time but rather to escalate their behavior, meaning they get worse and worse as time goes on.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised to run into someone who’d gone to school with disgraced pastor Mark Driscoll on another site. This ex-schoolmate asserted that Driscoll had been an incredible bully and asshat to anybody he didn’t consider part of his tribe. While the assertion wasn’t accompanied by evidence, it came from a source I consider credible. As well, the claim fell very much into line with credible statements from others who’ve witnessed his abusive behavior in the past.
Indeed, our country is finally realizing that Christian zealots can be very dangerous indeed.
Abuse Destroys Sales Attempts.
What’s astonishing is that the people who treat others in such shameful ways don’t even wonder why people reject their sales pitches.
That pastor from New Zealand seriously thinks that the literal only reason he gets pushback is that people just don’t like hearing him tell what he considers to be “the truth.” I’ve heard other Christians use exactly that rationalization to justify mistreating people. In fact, I’ve heard it so many times it doesn’t even shock me anymore. Christians totally disavow any sense of responsibility for how they behave. They count on their magical invisible wizard friend to force outsiders to convert despite the hypocrisy of this imaginary friend’s earthly pals.
My own then-husband, Biff (the preacher who abused and then stalked me), used to tell people, “Convert despite what I do, not because of what I do.” And it never ceased to dismay him that people refused to consider his demand! They considered his rampant hypocrisy as a valid reason to resist his proselytization.
Now, Biff thought that Jesus would still hold them responsible once they’d heard the message. So he figured that he’d done his duty by making sure they’d heard it. Only a god could make someone want to convert anyway (are you hearing the first stirring strains of Calvinism in him? Suddenly, I notice it). So it didn’t matter what he did one way or the other. If it was his god’s will that these people convert, they would do so regardless of what he did.
See how neatly this rationalization worked to help my then-husband abdicate all responsibility for his behavior?
Finding an Excuse.
When someone wants to abuse other people and assert dominance over them, then that person’s going to find whatever rationalizations are necessary to do that. It’s a real pity that Jesus’ ghostwriters didn’t also include him issuing a totally definitive command to love–oh wait, they did. Well, then it’s really sad that those ghostwriters didn’t give an unequivocal definition of “love” in the–oh wait, they did. Hm. Well, then it’s just too bad that those ghostwriters didn’t make clear just how important it is to treat other people right–oh. They did that too.
I wish I could still be surprised to learn that even though they have possession of a book that they think is a living god’s breathed word to a lucky world, toxic Christians bend over backwards to do every single thing they can think of to avoid reading it and doing what it flat-out tells them, repeatedly, to do.
The real surprise is that anybody converts into this religion. I can’t really imagine anybody sane or loving or healthy wanting to go to a Heaven populated by people like these Christian teen bullies and adult abusers, or wanting to worship a god who apparently not only condones but encourages that sort of behavior.
I’ve got to ask how these Christians know that they’re worshiping who they think they are. The other day I discovered that I wasn’t the only person who, when deconverting, spent an awful few days convinced that Satan had taken control of Christianity. But that was before I found out that Satan’s actually not a bad person in the Bible’s myths. No, we can’t lay the blame for Christian zealotry at the feet of a demon. This religion isn’t at all supernatural; it’s just the product of men who needed a way to dominate and exercise control over others.
And that is what it does best even today.
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(Cas slightly tidied up this post on February 14, 2019.)