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Out of every accusation belligerent Christians fling at those who reject their sales pitches, the one about us being angry at God has to be one of the most baffling and irritating. But Christians make this accusation for some very important reasons. Today, I’ll show you why they do it, and what it means.

divided we fall
(Daniel McCullough.) Separate lives.

Parallel Myths.

Evangelism-minded Christians move and breathe in a culture full of myths and folklore. Some of it comes from the Bible, but not all of it.

A big part of their recruitment tactics involves selling two parallel myths to existing and potential new members.

The first myth is that of the Super-Happy, Super-Content, Super-Fulfilled Christian. Hucksters in the religion have sold this vision for many years. Join us, and you will find a new family, even a new home. Join us, and you will gain a sense of purpose for your life. Participate in something much bigger than yourself. Find hope, joy, and peace. For those who feel adrift, this sales pitch sounds like a siren’s call.

Alongside that myth is that of the Unhappy, Discontented, Unfulfilled Atheist. And hucksters in the religion have sold this vision, as well. Ignore our call, and you will always lack what we enjoy. You’ll wonder why nothing in your life goes well–why your relationships sour, why your projects come to nothing. How sad, to lack purpose and meaning in life! How sad, to be so angry all the time, without hope of joy and true love! 

These myths function as two sides of the same tarnished coin. As the Christian saying goes: know Jesus, know peace–no Jesus, no peace!

We’ll come back to these two myths in a moment.

We must.

Disproving the Myths.

Many of us ex-Christians, while we were Christian, bought wholeheartedly into these myths. We thought that the only way to find love, joy, hope, peace, meaning, and all that was to stick with Christianity. If we hadn’t quite found those qualities yet, then we set our shoulders to pushing harder into the religion and our devotions. We were certain that with enough faith and enough devotion, those qualities were sure to land in our laps eventually. Until then, we waited for those moments of euphoria and prayer breakthroughs to hold us over.

By contrast, we thought that leaving Christianity would rip away whatever of those good qualities we had managed to cobble together. We would become deeply unhappy and rudderless, incapable of feeling true joy and unable to find any purpose for the rest of our lackluster lives.

Boy howdy, do most of us get a big surprise when we deconvert and discover what life after deconversion is really like. Not all of us end up escaping into the air like Bird Maidens with cries of joy on our lips, but all the same, deconversion often comes as a huge relief. The logistics of escaping the tribe might be a problem, but it’s a relief to finally understand that none of that guff is actually true.

After realizing the truth about Christianity’s claims, then, I woke up the next day and hadn’t become a monster. I felt like I was not only still me, but more me than I’d been in years. Far from feeling hopeless, I felt energized. The world felt like it had bloomed into color overnight.

And just like that, I’d debunked the parallel myths. I knew there was no Jesus, and yet I knew peace right then. In fact, I knew peace for the first time in years.

An Early Folk Belief.

In the days and months to follow, I discovered just how deeply unhappy I had been as a Christian.

Before deconversion, I had a vague idea that I had sacrificed much to be Christian. Because I believed that all that stuff was true, I awaited my reward after death. Then, finally, I’d find joy. Until then, I convinced myself that moments of euphoria sufficed.

That said, if someone had tried to tell me before deconversion that I seemed very unhappy, I’d have gotten offended. Definitely, I’d have denied the charge. And if someone had told me they were quite content as a non-Christian, I’d have thought they were either lying or deluding themselves. It wasn’t until afterward that I began to understand how deeply I’d deceived myself.

Even back then, even back in the 1980s and 1990s, Christians in my neck of the theological woods had adopted and embraced these two myths about believers and non-believers.

Relax, Everyone, Christians Are Coming Through to Explain!

So back in 2011, someone released a study announcing that atheists and agnostics reported feeling more anger toward the Christian god than believers did. Christian blogs went nuts over this news. They’d already suspected something like this, and now they thought they had confirmation! We believed, they decided, but we just didn’t want to admit it.

Over at First Things, a super-conservative Christian website that can be counted safely among the most toxic of them all, a Christian lists an astonishing number of things that completely enrage him. Then he quips that out of this truly dizzying array of innocuous things that drive him to rage, he has never been “angry at unicorns.” He knows unicorns aren’t real, so obviously he can’t be angry at them.1

But here’s this study that he thinks says that atheists may “claim” that they don’t believe in his god, and yet are angry at him. How oh HOW can THAT possibly be? Hmm….

The rest of his post is the usual projection, strawmanning, and blathering insults that we expect by now. He’s got this study, whose questions and methodology he clearly knows nothing about. It seems to agree with him, and that’s all that matters.

He wasn’t the only one talking like that, either.

The Propaganda Campaign.

Years ago, toxic Christians wove a tapestry mask out of all the little tropes and folkloric beliefs they held about the people who reject their religion. At the end, they ended up with a construct. Once it was finished, they settled that construct across their enemies.

Of all the snide, sneering Christians I’ve ever encountered, the ones who brandish this construct the most eagerly are the nastiest. They constantly create new stories about their enemies. Then, they use these stories to abuse their enemies even more than before.

They create stories like God’s Not Dead, where the atheist professor breaks down in mid-argument to admit he “hates” the god who robbed him of his mother. Or if you prefer current media, God Friended Me features the exact same dynamic.

Christian audiences watch and absorb it all. They hate and scorn the enemies they are told are idiots, are simpletons, are childish, are buffoons, are rudderless animals, are dangerous, are worse even than that. And they never wonder why a god of love is apparently totally okay with any of this messaging.

Though this nonsense won’t persuade anybody to join the tribe, the parallel myths will accomplish other goals.

Indeed, they already have.

The Ice Wall of Contempt.

First, the myths separate the tribe from its most hated outgroup. That is the myths’ primary function. It always was. The Christian leaders creating and spewing forth these myths need the flocks to loathe, fear, and hold in contempt their enemies. When you see an over-the-top caricature, one that begs you to hate and insult the subjects of the caricature, ask who wants you to hate them–and why.

For example, check out this classic post, “Hipsters on Food Stamps” by the Last Psychiatrist. Discussing a post elsewhere about, well, a pair of young, college-educated Baltimore hipsters buying fancy vegetables using food stamps, he uncovers a lot of class warfare and ulterior motives. He writes of feeling manipulated. Someone wants him to despise these two hipsters. To do that, he had to classify them as Others, as fundamentally different from himself.

In similar fashion, toxic Christians’ myths about non-believers keeps them hating us. They wall us off as barely even human, certainly not comprehensible or sympathetic.

They won’t ever get close enough to understand us. And really, they wouldn’t want to, even if we’d allow such a thing.

might as well be a million miles tall
(Miguel Mansilla.)

Locking the Sheepfold.

The second thing these myths do is to padlock the sheepfold. Who reads that toxic Christian wonderland of a website, First Things? Or, for that matter, the apologetics site Cross Examined?

These sites target Christian readers and always have. More to the point, they target toxic Christian readers. These posts’ authors wrote hate pieces about their tribe’s worst enemies, aimed it straight at the flocks, and then received their rewards.

Christians who buy into these assertions about their enemies will be that much more reluctant to engage with doubt. However bad their lives may seem now, losing their faith will only make them into one of those enemies. They will fear non-belief.

On that note, I’ve never once heard a single atheist admit to feeling anger at any mythological being, but I have heard plenty of ex-Christians say that they deeply feared non-belief because of their tribal folklore about life after deconversion. They feared becoming monsters, just as I once did.

An Unspoken Warning.

Third, these myths–and how Christian storytellers engage with them–serve as a subtle warning to believers. If they lose faith, then it’ll be them facing all that Christian love. Don’t think they don’t know it.

When my tribe abused me for daring to declare myself childfree, I wonder if any other young women watched that display and realized what they could never, ever share with a single soul? Statistically speaking, my church had to contain at least a few others besides me. I was the nail that stood out a bit higher than the rest, only to be hammered down. I wouldn’t have folded, but I wonder if my experiences functioned as a messy object lesson for someone else.

So look again at all the lavish insults and mockery slathered all over these posts and the stories like them. Observe the naked contempt toxic Christians have for the enemies they’ve decided to hate. And then consider what it must be like to be a Christian watching all this abuse while feeling serious doubts about the religion’s claims.

Holding the Line.

Fourth, these two myths confirm toxic Christians’ fondest beliefs and prevent any changes from occurring to those beliefs.

Going back to that “Hipsters on Food Stamps” thing, the writer there saw something else going on in the stoked-up hatred of hipsters on food stamps. Once his anger bloomed, he stayed focused on the hipsters.

And then he realized that his anger was the point. Once aroused, readers’ anger ensured that the system producing hipsters on food stamps would not change anytime soon. Readers railed against the hipsters, often comparing themselves to their new enemies to demonstrate their own superiority and moral fiber. The divide between Us and Them grew deeper and wider with every response. Nobody stopped to examine the system that had produced so many young adults just like these two hipsters, much less began to question it. It was just so much easier to revile them.

And in similar fashion, the myths toxic Christians weave and retell about their worst enemies ensure that absolutely nothing will change about anything they do or think. Reality itself cannot penetrate a bubble with such thick walls. Their overwhelming hatred of us has thus become one of their in-group marker beliefs.

More even than that, it’s become a way for them to tell Us from Them, a way to keep the dividing wall between Us and Them strong, and a reason to have that wall in the first place.

And the Final Blow.

Last and perhaps most importantly of all, this accusation functions as a projection.

I doubt any Christian alive hasn’t felt angry at their god at some time or another.

Just imagine (or remember) all the disappointments Christians face. Every time they pray for something tangible and don’t get it, that stuff adds up.

Every bit of bad luck, all the injustices they face from their broken system, and all the failures of the religion to live up to its own claims–it very rightly provokes reactions that lead to anger. In fact, I found a lot more Christian leaders addressing their advice to other Christians than talking about atheists they think are angry at their god. Advice, Bible verses, and admonitions exist aplenty online for Christians who feel this anger.

And so I detect, in their accusations against those who’ve rejected Christianity, a sort of withering, pompous zingerI sure didn’t reject Christianity when I got angry. But you did. Ugh, what a hothouse pansy you are, to wuss out over something I overcame! Obviously, you just weren’t as dedicated as I am!

just try to get through that
(Guillermo Álvarez.)

King Them, Denied.

Worse, I detect an attempt to adjudicate–even to veto–our rejection of their demands.

If they did not leave Christianity when they themselves got “angry at God,” then they will not allow it as a valid reason for anybody else to leave. Having diagnosed their enemies’ great malfunction, now they seek the power to refuse to allow it. It’s like they’re trying to outlaw leprechauns from Florida Rooms! But even if their diagnosis was correct, one big problem remains:

Our reasons for making any response we please to their demands ain’t up to King Them to allow, accept, or deny!

We can expect Christians to continue accusing us of being “angry at God.” This is a lie they find very comfortable–and comforting. It’s how they separate themselves from the rest of humanity, and how they maintain their own sense of superiority in the face of overwhelming losses in membership and credibility.

When they fling that accusation, I gently suggest that people see it in context and know it for what it is: a sure sign that nothing supernatural inhabits Christians, a sure sign that we’re making the right decision in rejecting Christianity, and best of all, a sure sign that Christianity’s decline will continue for the foreseeable future.

NEXT UP: Sneak with me into one of those weird little evangelism tents at County Fairs, and the strange results of my own childhood visit to one of them. See you soon!

Endnotes. Well, One Endnote. But It’s Big.

1 This Christian blowhard reaches for unicorns because it’s so absurd, but he only ends up wrecking his own case. I’m certain that even he can think of a religion based around supernatural beings that he doesn’t believe in that is currently committing human rights violations. How would he feel if he lived in, say, a country dominated by Islam that demanded he follow their religion’s rules? Or Hinduism? Or Buddhism? What if he lived around hardline fanatical Jews who threatened to physically attack him for defying their overreach? If a bunch of Giant Invisible Pink Unicorn worshipers were doing to him what his tribe is doing to everyone they can, I doubt he’d talk like this. 

That said, it’s hilarious that he went there. All we need to do is say that we feel about his god exactly the same way as he feels about unicorns. He can (and probably will) accuse us of lying, but we don’t have to let him put our hearts up for debate just because it’d really help him out if we’d let him redirect the discussion that way. He’ll do anything to avoid engaging with the fact that Christians themselves are the problem here, not their imaginary friend–just as other religions’ followers are when they commit the same overreach Christians do.

Also, holy cow, this guy sounds like he has a major anger problem. A pity “Jesus” isn’t helping him with that, any more than he’s helping him with his problems with intellectual honesty and compassion. Who’d ever want to join a group that produces so many followers like this guy? (Back to the post!)

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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,...