Protecting Yourself Against Religious Bullies

Jennifer Hancock, who previously wrote a book about Humanism, has now published a book called The Bully Vaccine: How to Innoculate Yourself Against Obnoxious People. The purpose is to help parents “vaccinate their kids against bullies” by preparing them for the worst kinds of behavior they encounter in school.

Below is an excerpt from the book focused specifically on religious bullying:

If you are a person of faith and someone tells you that you are an affront to God and that God is going to send you to burn in hell, that’s a very upsetting thing to hear.

The sad fact of life is that for some people, religion isn’t about learning to love and respect others; it is about learning to hate and demonize others. If anyone ever tells you that they know what God’s will is and that God hates you, they have just proven that they believe God wants them to hate. That is very sad and very wrong.

What you need to know

These are not people you can reason with. You can’t argue with them that they are wrong so don’t even try. Please don’t think for a minute that they might be right. They aren’t. They don’t know what they are talking about. They are just parroting what they learned in their church, which is apparently a hate­filled church. Most importantly, what they are trying to do is gain social status by being “holier than thou,” which is a sure sign that they aren’t.

The best way to deal with such people is to feel sorry for them because they don’t understand what it means to love their neighbors. This approach will help you feel better immediately and it will help you ignore their taunts more easily.

If you must respond to these holier than thou types, the best way is to compassionately call them out on their self­righteousness and walk away. It doesn’t matter if they claim to speak with religious authority; the fact is they are not. They are kids just like you. All they have learned to do is quote some out­of­context Bible verses that they don’t even understand fully. But if they can convince you to be afraid of their “religious authority” they can get status among their religious friends and the leaders of their church.

As hard as it is to ignore religious taunts and threats, you must. People who throw their hate­filled beliefs in other people’s faces are guilty of religious hubris, which means that they are guilty of excessive pride and arrogance. Do you really think such jerks are speaking for God? I don’t.

No one knows what God’s will is or if He or She even has a will. NO ONE! Anyone who claims to know is either lying or deluded. If people are trying to gain social status because of their perceived piousness, they are guilty of the sin of pride because they have made it clear by their actions that they care more for their social status than they do about God’s teachings. The Bible is very clear on this. God doesn’t like pride. He loves the humble.

The best way to deal with this sort of religious taunting is again, to call them out politely and compassionately and simply walk away. Here are a couple of quotes you may use. And no — you don’t need to explain them to religious bullies. Heck, you don’t even have to give them the actual quote. You can just provide the verse numbers and encourage them to look it up for themselves. Don’t ever get sucked into an argument with holier than thou people. Show your humble wisdom by holding your tongue. If you give them a Bible quote they don’t know you will force them to admit they don’t know or understand the Bible as well as they think they do and that is often all it takes to make them more humble in the future or at least to go find other targets to hassle.

From Proverbs

Proverbs 11:2 — When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

Proverbs: 11:12 — He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbor: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.

From Luke 18

If your bully argues the above quotes are from the Old Testament and that they only abide by the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament; say, Jesus felt the same way and refer them to Luke 18:9 — 14 which is a parable about the sin of pride as told by Jesus.

Luke 18:9 –­ And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others.

Luke 18:14 ­– For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

There are many more quotes in the Bible about pride and online Bible searches can help you find them. But again, you will be more effective if you just use one or two as a standard response to those who think they know more about the Bible and God’s will than anyone else. Sounding like a broken record is exactly what will make them want to leave you alone. Just keep referring these arrogant fools to the same tired quotes and ignore any of their attempts to claim that they are right on this matter or that their obnoxious behavior is justified. They aren’t right and there is never a good reason to be a jerk. End of story.

You can purchase the book on Amazon, donate copies of the book to your local library, and check out the extended bullying toolkit.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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