Lost in all the mainstream media coverage of Robin Williams‘ death is the usual internal mutterings among Christian commentators about whether or not he was a believer.
For Some Christians, the Most Important Question Behind Robin Williams’ Death is Whether or Not He Accepted Jesus
This Comedian Has a Brilliant Proposal for the Westboro Baptist Church So They Don’t Picket Robin Williams’ Funeral
Growing up in evangelical Christianity, mental health problems (and even strong emotions) were often dismissed as “needing Jesus” instead of legitimate medical issues. Post-partum depression was written off as lack of faith in God’s calling to motherhood. Bipolar disorder was written off as a lack of self-control. OCD was dismissed as if it was normal. Anxiety was lack of faith and discipline in prayer. Suicide was a sin driven by selfishness. Grief was indulgent. Anger was sin.
As a result, those needing actual help from friends, therapists, mentors, family members, and other potential sources of support were isolated by the stigma and shame of their struggles.
I’m not exactly Mr. Sunshine, so you might think the curmudgeonly grousing of atheist blogger P.Z. Myers would resonate with me.
It rarely does, and yesterday I was reminded why. In writing about the suicide of comedian Robin Williams, Myers went from prickly to prickish in three seconds flat. Under the telling headline Robin Williams Brings Joy to the Hearts of Journalists and Politicians Once Again, Myers sneered that
[Williams’] sacrifice has been a great boon to the the news cycle and the electoral machinery — thank God that we have a tragedy involving a wealthy white man to drag us away from the depressing news about brown people.