Why God Enjoys Sending Me Haters of Christians

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This weekend Huffington Post published my “When Bad Emotions Happen to Good Christians.

Publishing anything on The Huffington Post having to do with Christianity is like strapping raw steaks onto your body and jumping into shark-infested waters. You’re gonna get hurt.

“You have seen the face of god, but, being a deluded Christian, you cannot recognize the obvious.”

“What is a good Christian, anyway? I have lived in Texas for 12 years now and I have yet to see a Christian that is not a self-righteous hate monger . . .”

“We need to dismiss god altogether and get on with our lives as self responsible people, not puppets of an invisible mythical sky-daddy.”

“‘I’m a Christian’ is how Sharon Angle tried to explain her despicable conviction that raped pregnant 13-year-old girls should ‘make lemonade.'”

“Let me know when Christians admit they are human–I might be interested in listening …”

“If the religious nuts had their way, they would burn all the science books and go back to thinking that the Sun revolves around us and that the World is only a few thousand years old and that Man came from dust etc, etc, etc. Oh and if you believe in a sky daddy and give plenty of cash to the church, you will go to heaven, now ain’t that a cute fairy tale to tell the kids?”

Those are just some of the comments of that sort left on “Bad Emotions.”

Yowzer, man. There sure are a lot of angry people in the world.

The good news is that such comments are not the norm; most people aren’t nearly so bilious. And if there’s anywhere Christians are going to be blindly attacked, it’s on Huffington Post. It’s not like I don’t know that writing about Christianity on that site is like flamenco dancing in a mine field. I understand going in that I’ll come out limping.

Besides, I know it’s just God having some fun with me. Because God remembers how much time I spent of my own life thinking and saying the same kinds of hateful, ignorant things about Christians and Christianity that I must now at times endure from others.

When I read comments like the above I get angry, incensed, outraged, indignant.

And then I remember that, alas, fair is fair.


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  • Ace

    Most of the "good" Christians are very, very quiet, and speak more in actions than words.

    As such, they get totally drowned out by the cacophany of the whackadoodle segment. :

    I can understand the ire of my non-Christian friends who don't care much for Christians (I get a "pass" because apparently I'm speshul, don't ask me about that. I suppose becuase I typically try to keep my big fat mouth shut and lend a hand instead).

  • Jill

    I just want you to know that you are *very* good at snark. Don't listen to those guys.

  • randix

    I'm reading Dawkins' "The God Delusion" right now. Tough going (because it is so boring!) But ya gotta give him some leeway, I mean, he's a biologist. And according to him biologists have the highest "raised consciousness". Even more than us poor, ignorant physical scientists. I only studied to a PhD in Chemistry, so I certainly have no raised consciousness.

    Anyways, keep up the good work, John! I haven't been here long, but am having lots of fun reading your stuff and pointing others to it.

  • LoneWolf

    Remember: Dawkins is a great biologist, not a great philosopher.

  • Ace

    "And according to him biologists have the highest “raised consciousness”."


    Dawkins is always good for a larf, at least. That guy is so impressed by himself.

  • LoneWolf

    Actually, John, those are trolls. They really don't care about Christians beyond how to get them angry.

  • Keep building bridges and, as LoneWolf suggested, ignore the trolls that want to live underneath. As much as possible, respond with love but continue with the sarcasm as appropriate. I'm pretty sure, however, that when asking "WWJD?" the answer would not be "engage in a flame-war".

    I believe you've got lots of folk out here who've got your back.

    Mary Linda

  • Don Whitt

    Sometimes I think the Internet has done for healthy dialog what whiskey has done for livers. The larger the forum, the less focused and thoughtful the correspondence and the more troll-like spouting-off exists. And, though more liberal, HuffPo is primarily a news site and those seem to engender the most thoughtless spouting.

    Nice to have this forum to express one's self without very much of that reflexive snarking. Thank you, John.

  • Coincidentally, huffpo just posted an apt article by Russell Bishop: What We Need Are A Few Good Cynics

  • if you build a bridge, especially on the internet, a troll is gonna want to set up housekeeping underneath.

    I sometimes wonder if all these trolls, especially the supposed Christian ones are related, or if they treat people in the physical world as shabbily as they do in the virtual one

  • Are you meaning haters of Christians? Or haters of Christianity?

    Just curious…

  • To all: Thank you so much. What wonderful, thoughtful, good-hearted comments! I certainly appreciate this love and encouragement.

  • I meant what I wrote. Thanks for asking.

  • Leslie

    I read or heard somewhere that anti-Christianity is the last acceptable prejudice, and from what I’ve seen in this world, that’s probably true. 🙁

    Keep up the good work, John. You’re a candle in the darkness that is the Huffington Post. 🙂

  • There are both actually, and those that are haters of those that don't view Christianity exactly like they do. Often those are the worse, as they think that it's perfectly wonderful to say horrible things to or about another, because of some differences in viewpoints over what really boils down to not super important issues.

    Oh and I actually got to read the Penguins book sooner then expected. I see that you have God address such things, although briefly.

    I wouldn't let your nay-sayers and those that seek to belittle you or what you do trouble you too much. You can take this view, that I decided works for me…"As everyone has nose hairs, so does everyone have opinions, you just don't have to share them" My original version of this quote used a more emitting type body part, but I think I'll keep the nose hairs version.

  • Old Stuff

    I have "read or heard" the same thing about the poor, maligned Christians. It takes some pretty torturous math, though, to show that the 80% of the U.S. population that is Christian is somehow marginalized. Does not converting our Constitution to biblical [theocratic] standards somehow constitute persecution? Does not letting the religious right run roughshod over public policy somehow constitute prejudice?

    I would submit that non-believers such as myself endure more prejudice than any other group…and I have a U. of Minnesota study to back me up.


  • Nicola

    Keep on trekking John. I assume you are building up some good thick skin for when we reach the real $*#t hitting the fan. Way to go. I like most of your articles.

  • To me, you blogging on HuffPo is fighting the good fight. You're not pushing an agenda, just showing Christ. It's a good place to be.

  • amelia

    John, please don’t be alarmed, but I have suggested your blog to all my agnostic/secular-humanist/athiest peeps. Thank you. This blog has done wonders for allowing people to voice their beliefs, concerns and questions about life, love and God. You’re awesome and inspiring, so keep it up!!! 🙂

  • John,

    I have read some of the comments on you posts at HuffPo, and the nastiest always seem to come from the same people on every post. How pathetic, exactly, does someone have to be to be a “HuffPo” super user? These are people who have nothing better to do with their day than scour webpages for opportunities to be hateful; much like some of the people that you have run off from your site (or who left on their own). And they are not even that good at it. I can’t get angry with someone whose life is that small.

  • Elizabeth

    A whole lot of what you say can be clarified by the fact that you "meant what I wrote". You are an incredibly precise writer, as well as a Christian, and whatever else label someone is throwing at you today. I can't believe that I let people who don't even read carefully get me upset. But I guess I do.

    Two things. One is, did you see that the autolink for this today, according to my gadget anyway, read "Conservative Christians: Quit Screaming. Liberal Christians: Quit Drinking…" Gotta say, it ruined my plan for the day. When you first posted this at some ungodly hour like 7:30 EDT, drinking was uppermost in my mind as a response.

    Then, as I retweeted and Facebooked this, I discovered the bitly address ended in "FCMe". Am I the only one who sees an ulterior meaning in that?

  • That is SO funny!!

    I mean, you know: In a totally wrong kind of way.

  • Thanks, MM, very much.

  • berkshire

    I love how, in this post, you do precisely what you said in the “emotions” post. You acknowledge how all this makes you feel, and you look at it for some useful meaning–in this case, God is having some fun pointing out something you used to do, and making you look at it and think about it from this new place you’re in (though, I have to say, I find it hard to believe that even at your worst you were as much of an emotional/psychological mess as some of the trolls posting on HuffPo). From that place, you seem to have a certain equanimity, expressed in “fair is fair”.

    This is why I, a non-Christian, keep reading your blog, and telling others to read it, too.

    You’re doing a great job, Mr. Shore. And I think you must even be chipping away at the trolls’ armor–why else would they be so whipped into a frenzy of defense?

  • Agree completely! And furthermore, the rational readers of the Huffington Post (I am one of them) never comment. We go to HuffPo for the interesting news and thought-provoking articles by people like John. (Although I have to say I’ve been disappointed to see how HuffPo has deteriorated into tabloid mode!)

    I too understand the ire of non-Christians who don’t care for Christians, because damnit–Christians can be downright obnoxious when they don’t keep their mouths shut about what doesn’t concern them…and when they do not walk their very loud talk. 🙂

    I have to say that reading internet comments can be downright depressing and concerning for the present state and future of the human race.

  • berkshire

    That’s called “The Dawkins Delusion”.

  • DR

    Wow, I blew that first sentence. I meant I couldn't *disagree* more, sorry for all of the typos in this comment.

  • Great post, Dr. 🙂

  • DR

    Ironically these are some of the emotions I struggle with the most. I'm conflicted; on one hand wanting to call out all of the really vile commenters who get so personal out and mock them with what I will admit to be some grade A grass fed snark of my own. I'm the queen of sarcasm, I could level that place. I'm obviously humble about my sarcastic prowess, it took you really drawing me out to talk about how awesome I am at providing verbal slaps.


    And then there's all the above. I'd love to hear other people weigh in, I think it's my default to always protecting and trying to love and respect the underdog. I think Jesus was ultimately about the underdogs. Or I'm just really, really neurotic and way too attached to the atheists in my life who I adore and have educated me a lot – but those lessons may have just been for me, not everyone else. Speaking in "we" is dangerous.

  • DR

    I tend to agree. Mean is mean, I don't like it anywhere but to suggest that Christians are marginalized isn't something I can get behind. I used to believe that, but then I realized that I wasn't used to being held accountable for the actions of many. I'm still not used to that, my rather schizophrenic presence on this forum being testimony to that:

    "Hey you jerk atheist! Back off, you're being a jerk!"

    "Hey, why don't we try to really understand why these atheists are yelling at us? Do better, Christians!"

    It's an awfully nice view from my ivory tower.

  • Roybe

    Hey John! Huff Poster cross posting! Oh NO! Look out here comes the hate and flames!

    But first:

    Dr..DR DDDRRR, you are awesome! What a wonderful post, as a CINO (Catholic In Name Only), I understand your desire to help others and help them by SERVING! Listen first, then serve their needs. If only…

    Now Mr. Shore. Honestly, the way you are testifying, and spreading the word is beautiful and inspiring. I only have one other person I have met in RL that appears to understand that, we the unwashed heathens, do observe peoples actions and behaviors, as all humans do, and value consistency within your claimed moral framework.

    If you say you believe in a God of love, then share that love by example, rather than judgmental (hang on I'll explain that) claims against us. One of my favorite images of Christ has always been him cleaning the feet of others knowing he is supposed to be a Messianic figure. Yes, it was demeaning for him to do that, but the motive, that was what was important.

    Now judgmental claims. I believe I've pointed this out on the other side of the world, I have no problem with someone I know, or in this case have searched out, discussing religious beliefs while gaining insight by listening to the other sides take on their Faith. Please understand I might not agree with the religion, but I try my best to be respectful of the beliefs.

    However, I can say that when I am approached, assaulted, yelled at, by someone outside a women's clinic when taking my wife for a checkup or walking down a street or grocery shopping or even (I do live in the South) upon introduction (usually while shaking hands, generally the first thing asked after your name is given is "What church do you go to?") . I find myself wanting to scream "Leave me alone! It's none of your damned business!'

    Then in any of those cases if I deem to answer with a polite "I don't." I get the look of "Oh you poor lost soul, going to hell if you die tonight!". Or flat out being told the same and that I should be saved or find Jesus. Any of these are not helpful to me at that moment, nor do they make an impression that is easy to shed, since these are not suggestions to me or many, but judgments that the other person is better than me because they know they are right and I am damned unless I believe as they do. (The emotion I feel is similar to that of being obviously dirt poor and being asked nonchalantly, "What kind of steak did you eat last night?")

    Sorry for that bit there, but I said I would explain! So with what reason do I come here? To listen mostly. I will not disrupt you or those that post here. Your line of 'trying God's patience' is interesting and in many respects at Huff Po you do the same with many others, and I believe they need it! For there is one thing about religion that I do understand, and that is regardless of the Faith you profess (or those that claim none) , Extremism needs to have it's nose tweaked, for no other reason than it might let those not involved see how arrogant and unnecessary that type of devotion is, with a little hope that those involved will see that their need to be 'right' isn't as important as their need to hold onto the Faith in what they believe. Thank you for letting me ramble, and for the patience you and those that also use the Huff Po show rather than feed the flames of dissent and self righteousness.

    Oh darn, I'll have to give out the hate and flames in a double dose on a later post.

  • Roybe

    Leslie try being GLBT in the US and then come back and talk to me about 'the last acceptable prejudice'. Not disagreeing that there are some people that will talk bad about you, but it is still legal to not hire those with different sexual orientations in this country, and many of my friends, including myself (case of mistaken identity, gay friend was walking with my wife I was walking with his boyfriend) have been beat up, assaulted, and in many other ways more than inconvenienced by simple name calling.

  • I go there to, as I say, "whet my steel" I guess. I see interesting articles, and then I see interesting comments, and I reply knowing just what I'm getting into.

    I think part of my presence on Huff is the urge to say "Hey! Hay, guys! We aren't *all* like that!" and make an attempt to slay sterotypes. (I'm "AdorableHero" on there, by the way, think of me as the "errant hero on a mission to slay sterotypes").

    What has appalled me most on HuffPost are the majority comments to the articles about preserving and promoting religious liberty abroad. Most of the people react with "How dare our goverment promote religion!" "Relgion is evil!" "We need freedom FROM religion!" and "Let's just let them kill each other!" and I sit there, jaw hanging, thinking "Are people *really* this stupid?" I thought that everyone knew that the push to promote and preserve religious liberty also included taking care of the rights of people who did not want religion, the rights of people who want to leave their religions, the rights of atheists abroad, as well. If anything, a push for more religious liberty in the world would protect *their* people more than ours! And they just don't see that? It conjures up images in my mind of impatient, petulant children, actually. They're angry that religion exists at all and seemingly cannot accept that it does, in fact, exist and has to be worked with and around to preserve *everyone's* peace.

    Yeah, people are that stupid. Only conclusion I can come up with.

  • Ben

    I'm always intrigued by the American Christian discourse because it can be so startlingly different to the one here in Australia. We are nominally a Christian nation (68% identified in the 2001 census but church attendance way lower) but our newly-elevated (through party machinations) Prime Minister's status as a non-believer is hardly raising a ripple in the wider populace. She (Julia Gillard) is also never-married, no children and currently dating/living with a hairdresser (male). Can you imagine that ever happening in the US? (You should try it though because I'm sure it would give an instant heart-attack to Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and several other of your country's greatest blowhards.)

    As an ex-atheist myself, I can tell you that I definitely have received much more scorn as a Christian than I ever did as an atheist. Touchy political correctness is a fact of life here (though I believe it is much worse in the UK which considers itself much more enlightened than us rustic Aussies) but there is no need to be PC when it comes to Christians. Few people are silly enough to poke fun at Christ but Christians are fair game. Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims etc are treated with much more respect and care and it is only non-offensive to pick on the Christian religion.

    And like John, I know where it comes from because I was such a gleeful participant – I even used to refer to myself as a "fervent atheist" and would even 'evangelise' believers if I was feeling belligerent enough.

    I think if the US ever became more overtly secular like us and the UK, this comment would become more accurate. For the moment, your (to me very nutty) close marriage between religion and politics makes it not-quite-true.

  • Christine

    I was hanging out with my neighbours yesterday (who happen to be a lesbian couple) and we were having an awesome time when one of them said "you know you are the only cool Christian I had ever met". My first thought was "booyah, I'm awesome" then the close second was "that is really sad". Makes me angry that they both grew up in church and yet have never met a nice decent Christian until now. Makes me angrier that I am represented by nut cases who make me bad. Makes me freaking happy that they think I am cool (gonna write that in my diary for the next time one of my friends groans at one of my lame jokes) 😛

  • Christine

    oh and obviously missing the mark with my comments John, obviously gotta a be bit more scathing to fit in with everyone else. So….umm…..you suck??

  • berkshire

    That’s actually not the study, but an article that refers to the study. I hear what you’re saying about public policy and all that, and agree with that to a certain extent. But . . .

    It’s an nteresting article, that clearly favors a specific point of view—which any researcher will tell you happens all the time, but doesn’t always make for solid research design.

    “Invidious distinctions between believers and non-believers”—do the questions presented in the survey point to the invidious nature, or is that “invidiousness” simply inferred by the authors? From what I could tell, it’s inferred.

    “The reaction to atheists has long been used as an index of political and social tolerance” by whom? Perhaps that’s true, I don’t know. But with no references, in an academic paper, kind of hard to know if that assertion has any basis in anything but what the authors want to present. If this were a Wiki, we’d call those “weasel words”. Those show up quite a bit in the study, actually.

    “ Question 2 asked whether the respondent would approve or disapprove if his or her child wished to marry a member of each of a list of 4 groups. This item is a standard measure of group prejudice, with reluctance to accept intermarriage typically interpreted as an indicator of underlying intolerance”

    Wow!!! What a leap! That’s total projection by someone feeling horribly persecuted, I think, and displaying—glaringly—their OWN preconceived ideas about religious people. Could it possibly be an indicator not of intolerance, but of realistic understanding of what marriage involves, and concern for the very real challenges a couple could face if they do not share something so fundamental as belief or disbelief in a higher power? Please!

    It gets worse. They go on to say this: “We interpret it here as a measure of personal trust and acceptance, an evaluation of who is thought to be capable of being caring and moral, able to make one’s child happy, and to treat other family members well.” Double-wow! What a sad fantasy to assume that it would always mean that.

    Here I’ll say that, while religious, I’m not a member of a dominant religion in American society. I dated, in a serious long-term way, an atheist some time ago. We’re still good friends, in fact. While he was a caring and moral person, kind to children and old people and everyone in-between, he and I both had strong feelings about whether to bring up children in a religious tradition. Not hard to imagine where each of us stood on that issue—and it represented an impasse that was *major*. The absence of religious “indoctrination” in his children’s lives was as important to him as the presence of religious teachings were to me. I’m not willing to say all atheists are alike any more than I’d say all religious people are alike. Some atheists might not care if their partners wished to raise the kids in a religious tradition. Some would care a lot.

    Now, some years down the road, I don’t have children. But if I did, and they maintained some religious affiliation, you can bet that if they came home and told me about a relationship that was heading toward marriage with someone who didn’t share at least a belief in something . . . . or conversely, if I knew my child was an atheist (to the point of even being ironically dogmatic about it) and in-love with someone very religious, I would caution them about the pitfalls, and possibly even discourage the union. That doesn’t mean I hate atheists or wish to exclude them from society. It does mean I’d want to spare my child a lot of unnecessary pain and difficulty. A TRULY balanced survey would have a follow-up along the lines of “If you disapprove of the marriage to an atheist, would you still be supportive and accepting if they proceeded with the marriage?” Heck yeah, I would. This study—which I read in its entirety, not simply the article that mentioned the study—was pretty suspect and poorly constructed/sampled, though it did make some valid points to consider. For example, yes, it’s hard to imagine this country electing a president that openly claimed he or she was an atheist. If one is an atheist, that’s got to make you feel pretty crappy and indeed marginalized.

    Kind of silly to get into a dispute about who is the more persecuted among us—the religious or non-religious. Everyone has biases. And if you asked atheists questions similar to the ones in this study, you may very well see similar results. That is, religious people were asked if they’d accept their offspring marrying an atheist. What kind of answers do you think you’d get from staunch atheists about their offspring marrying someone devoutly religious? As a species, I’d say all of us are pretty darned good at creating in-groups, out-groups, “others” and “not-I’s”. It’s all a defense against what we don’t want to recognize or acknowledge in ourselves, and I’d suggest, the biggest form of emotional, psychological, spiritual, and intellectual dishonesty there is.

    Um . . . if brevity is the soul of wit or anything else, I guess I’m kinda doomed. Yikes.

  • DR

    I’m going to be the unpopular vote here, but I just couldn’t agree more with this point of view. I’m a Christian, just to make sure you understand where I’m coming from.

    Christians have enjoyed the experience of the majority here in America for literally, hundreds of years. The Bible serves as the foundation for much if not all of the laws. The Ten Commandments were everywhere in public buildings. We are often as a group, able to influence elections in a really substantial way (Sarah Palin being one example). We’ve rarely – if ever- been discriminated against out of a job, at a bank, etc.

    We have some people who are angry with us. They see a ton of horrific damage done in the name of Jesus. They’ve never felt empowered to say so, they’ve never really had a platform before. But now they do (the Internet) and they are using it.

    I adore John, I think that’s clear. I could never do what he does here, I have too quick of a temper and frankly, I’m too insecure. I like it when people like me and it would be too hard for me to be the symbol of everyone’s hatred. But I read the Huffington post and I see a lot of people who are simply unwilling to give John or any of us “good Christians” a pass. Because of the fact that most of us really are quiet – we’re so concerned about distancing ourselves from the “bad” Christians that we’re not as vocal as they are. We’re passive.

    I understand why – what do we do? There’s a paralysis I experience when I see yet another Christian whose preaching Jesus Jesus and then sleeps around on his wife or buys his fourth Mercedes. But the one thing that caused me to stop reading the Huffington post wasn’t the anger, because with all due respect a lot of those people are feeling an anger that’s righteous. They aren’t Christian, yet they are forced to deal with our Christian customs in the legal system, in the educational system as some areas keep pushing Creationism to be taught alongside evolution. They see Christians continuing to fight against the rights of certain people to marry when our divorce rate is nearly 60% in our own community and the biggest population of kids who commit suicide are gay kids from Christian homes. A lot of those people really are *scared* that we’re going to impact their way of life that they are entitled to as an American non-Christian and they’re saying so.

    In a weird way, I’m kind of impressed with people who stand up to Christians because it’s scary for a lot of people who’ve grown up with the belief that they are going to hell to really face their accuser. And like it or not, we represent their accuser. The question – at least for me – is how we’re going to handle that. Do we make it about *us*? How we feel? How mean people are? Or are we somehow empowered to look beyond our self and really hear what people need from us.

    How do we listen in the midst of hostility? How do we set healthy boundaries that help people really face their anger and their shame, much of which has been imposed on them in the name of Jesus? When are we Christian and when are we not? These are all serious questions for me, I don’t have any of the answers. It’s my sense that getting defensive is 100% normal and also 100% ineffective. Some of those people in that thread are bullies – who do we become, the victim they are targeting? The parent that wants to understand the pain behind the anger? What is our response? For me, what people really need from us is what we have to be open to and so far I’m not seeing any answer that I can say “Yes. That’s what I believe”.

    The hardest part of that thread wasn’t the hostility, though I confess to having a visceral protective instinct because I’ve fallen in love with John and Cat and want to give a verbal beat down to anyone who hits below the belt. But the hardest part of that thread was seeing a Christian tell a non-Christian Muslim who expressed this profound vulnerability, admitting the pain felt by Christians who raged against Islam, saying she couldn’t apologize because it wasn’t her doing.

    I immediately thought of what Christians are looking to the Catholic Church to do – to apologize *on behalf of* the microscopic amount of Priests who are pedophiles and the clergy that hid them. We look to them to apologize on behalf of the really crappy people, but what about us?

    For me, if I could the rest of my life apologizing to every gay man or woman whose been told they are going to hell for how they are wired, I would. I’d apologize to every child who was molested by a priest (as a Catholic). I’d tell every Muslim who’s been called evil spawn by a Christian that I’m sorry, on behalf of this Jesus that I love, who’s redeemed me, it breaks my heart that this Good has been used in evil. Every African-American that was told they were not allowed in a white church due to scripture that it was wrong. Every AIDs victim in Africa that wasn’t provided a condom due to the Catholic Church preventing it that I hate it, I hate the ignorance and on behalf of the Church I am sorry. And every Atheist that’s ever been told by a Christian that they have no real morality – that they possess no ability to have healthy marriages or strong ethical code – that there’s absolutely no truth to that and I’d ask them what I could do to repair it.

    We (and I’m including myself in this equasion) seem to spend a lot of time managing our own emotions instead of trying to face the very hot rage of some with as much silence as we can, absorb what we can and ask, “What can I do to repair how you’ve been hurt by my Church. If I can, I will.”

    Can you imagine if we did that? I wonder how many people would keep screaming. A lot, I’m sure, and I think they’d all choose John as a target. Not putting up with that shit has it’s own dignity, I like elevating the discourse by calling a rude asshole spade a rude asshole spade. But do we just stop there? I don’t think we do.

    As a Catholic, I don’t hold all of the thousands of

  • You are right Christine. I've also been told that I was "a cool Christian." and was also flattered and saddened at the same time. Wouldn't it be nice to have our faith recognized by this type of group label instead of the other extreme. I do wonder why "cool Christians" seem to be such an exception to the rule and are they/we really that much of a minority?

  • Ace

    I agree with you there. Even so-called "tolerant" places like university campuses you still get so much of this trash going on. As a Christian I can say that kind of intolerance and persecution of people horrifies me.

    I don't think Christians are a disadvantaged group, at all. But the problem is that human beings in general are never happy with "equal to" – they are only happy when they have "more than" another group. Heck, even monkeys and apes are like this (and who says evolution is made up?).

    Don't believe me? Take a delicious chocolate-chip cookie, break it into two completely identical halves and get the parent to give it to a couple of boys who are siblings close to the same age. They'll both *swear* that their brother got the biggest half if you ask whose piece was biggest after they eat them up. Any two groups in a rivalry will not be happy or consider themselves "equal" or "fair" until they have not the same but *more* than the other group.

    The neo-conservative movement dressed-up as "christian" that is currently trying to turn this nation into nothing short of a theocracy with a "christian" version of Sharia law is completely horrifying, frankly.

  • Ace

    "For the moment, your (to me very nutty) close marriage between religion and politics"

    You aren't the only one to find it very nutty. A lot of Americans find it very nutty, and quite baffling.

  • Old Stuff

    "I even used to refer to myself as a “fervent atheist” and would even ‘evangelise’ believers if I was feeling belligerent enough."

    "your (to me very nutty) close marriage between religion and politics"

    It is that marriage between religion and politics that motivates many of us non-believers to be the "fervent atheist". Our founding fathers recognized full well that religion and politics make poor bedfellows and created a secular nation. If the religious right would keep their religion personal, then you wouldn't even hear from the likes of me in these venues. But that is not the case. We have political 'contenders' such as Mike Huckabee saying bat-s**t crazy unconstitutional things like:

    "I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

    We also have the specter of Sarah Palin brought up as an end-of-days nutcase who is 'seeing signs', feels she has been selected by God, and would have access to nuclear codes to move along that hoped-for apocalypse.

    It is not just a minor concern. My motivation is based on an influential, religion-damaged minority seeking [and sometimes gaining] the ability to do unspeakable harm.

  • Ace

    The problems with the Roman Catholic Church go way back more than just "decades" though. The problems originate largely from when it was declared teh state religion of the Roman Empire in 380 AD and it has since then been corrupted with its continual pursit of wealth, influence and Earthly power. So much for treasures in heaven…

    Again, it's mixing politics with religion that you get a toxic mess as a result that benefits neither God nor Mankind as a whole (just the few sick individuals at the top of the power-pyramid).

    Like you said though, it's a crying shame, because most ordinary Catholic people are nothing like that. It's too bad the church power structure doesn't much care what they think.

  • As an atheist, I like to think that I can be hated on my own merits, without divine intervention. Pure hubris on my part, I know.

    I'm glad that I don't take up any of God's time with this, because he's awfully busy catering to your needs in this matter.

    What does it say when God sends you atheists who love you…well not "love you" love you, but love you in an atheistically going-to-burn-in-hell-anyway sort of way?

    Inquisitive minds want to know.

  • DR


    I have a lot of non-religious people in my life who expect me to deal with them on their own terms. They aren't religious. They have their set of beliefs and criteria by which they judge what is good and bad.

    I read your comment and can't help but wonder why atheists such as yourself are willing to do the same. It's clear that Christians believe in a God that is personal. That's not "hubris", it's what we believe, that there is a very intimate connection and the events that comprise our lives are their for a more divine purpose. It seems as though you're suggesting such a belief is hubris which for you as someone who doesn't believe? That's accurate. But why expect that from a Christian?

  • DR

    "But the problem is that human beings in general are never happy with “equal to” – they are only happy when they have “more than” another group."

    Ace, I can only speak to those people in my life and what I read, but a lot of people don't want "more than" anyone else. They want the "as much" as everyone else. Leslie, for example in the comment above. She wants to be able to be married (assuming she is gay). that's not wanting more than a different group, it's just wanting to be an American citizen who wants to enjoy the same legal rights and social contracts that marriage affords. And it's those of us who are religious who are preventing her from doing so.

    Many want their taxes spent on public school education that does not have public prayer. You'd think that Christians were being thrown to the lions when that occurred, but all that was happening was prayer was being removed from a place where non-religious parents were paying taxes just like those of us who are Christian. The same with Creationism – it is not a science. It is a belief based on the Judeo-Christian God, there are a lot of people who send their children to a public school and don't want any religious influence there. And they get a say because they are in part, paying for it. But you hear Christians say "We're being persecuted for our beliefs!"

    No we're not, not in that specific context. We don't get to have every single one of our beliefs embedded everywhere. We have actually, we've enjoyed that experience for hundreds of years. We're constantly referring to ourselves as a "Christian nation". But we're not, that's what people are trying to teach us.

    We're a nation comprised of a million different kinds of people who want to make sure that the "common areas" we are all paying for together are comfortable for everyone. There are a lot of Christians who are crying "I'm hated for my beliefs" to those who frankly, don't really care one way or the other about us. They just want the common areas to be "common", like public education, marriage, etc. It doesn't seem unreasonable.

  • Old Stuff

    While Dennis' post is, I feel, not well stated; I think the 'hubris' the non-believers see is the claimed knowledge of the unknowable exhibited by some of the believing community. Claiming to know the mind of their respective god on no evidence (and expecting deference or respect for their position) is exasperating.

  • DR

    *there. WOW.

  • DR

    I know what he meant, and my point is the same. It's one thing to observe another's recanting of their experience, which is exactly what John is doing here. He's talking about his own experience with God and anyone who's reasonable is going to expect that from a Christian. What Dennis and others seem to do is attach their own particular labels to it like "hubris" when anyone who is genuinely open to dialogue with a Christian should know it's anything but that, at least in the mind of a Christian.

    Though I am operating under the assumption that Dennis is here because he's actually interested in connection with people here and that might not be accurate.

  • DR

    Yes. This.

  • DR

    I will grant that a majority of our founding fathers were Christian and used that framework.>>

    Yes. That was my point.

    I am careful to distinguish between Catholics and the Catholic Church. The vast majority Catholics are perfectly reasonable and, in my experience, recognize that patently wrong things about Catholic teachings on contraception, clergy celibacy, women and more.>>>

    I'm Catholic myself, and still love it though I don't go due to all of my conflict with what you've written regarding what is currently teaches. That being said, I couldn't disagree with what you've written more, the very fact that Catholics are separating themselves from "The Church" is the problem. You took action, but you took it when you left. I can rail about it, but I do it from the outside, I'm no better.

    Where are all of us who are refusing to pay a dime in the collection plate until the pedophiles that have been hidden are in jail? Where are those of us who are actively saying "I refuse to pay anymore money until you allow women to become priests."

    We have allowed ourselves to be manipulated. "Pray Pay and Obey" is the way the clergy have kept Catholics passive, and we've allowed it. The lay people – our inaction, our laziness, our fear and our indifference as well as misplaced loyalty has gotten us exactly where we are today.

  • Roybe


    "…genuinely open to dialogue with a Christian should know it’s anything but that, " (Brackets mine for emphasis)

    Umm, this is the sticky wicket in the discussion. To discuss this topic with a lot of fervent Christians this point is a basic truth in the discussion. WE, as people living outside the faith have to be willing to feel belittled because of the 'unassailable truth' in your statement that all of you have a direct pipeline from your thoughts to God's ears. I know I do not, nor do I expect, to think myself worthy of such a privilege. Therefore, from the outside looking in, that is a pretty haughty idea.

    Again, this goes back to my feelings with a lot of Christians, "What kind of steak did you have for dinner last night?" as I look down at my filthy rags and bare feet.

  • Roybe: "WE, as people living outside the faith have to be willing to feel belittled because of the ‘unassailable truth’ in your statement that all of you have a direct pipeline from your thoughts to God’s ears. I know I do not, nor do I expect, to think myself worthy of such a privilege. Therefore, from the outside looking in, that is a pretty haughty idea."

    You nailed the main issue I have when it comes to dialoguing with many a Christian: the presumption that before I even speak that I; as a non-Christian; obviously doesnt know jackcrap about god and anything spiritual. It's like we have to prove ourselves to them. Which of course is impossible since we are not Christian.

    It kills any real dialogue. How can you share of any experiences or insights when it seems they cannot hear beyond 'I'm a non-Christain"…?? Once you have that label, you're doomed for they will NEVER hear you.

    It's depressing and maddening. 🙁

  • Did I ever tell you about the time Christians took me out to go get a drink with them? We go off looking for a bar and we can't find one. Finally the Christians take me to a vacant lot and say, "Here we are." We sat there for a year and a half and sure enough someone constructs a bar around us. The day they opened we ordered a shot, drank it, and then burned the place to the ground. The Christians yelled over the roar of the flames, "Always leave things the way you found em!"

  • Roybe

    "We have allowed ourselves to be manipulated. “Pray Pay and Obey” is the way the clergy have kept Catholics passive, and we’ve allowed it. The lay people – our inaction, our laziness, our fear and our indifference as well as misplaced loyalty has gotten us exactly where we are today."

    Remember, at least when I was taught my Catechism (crap, it''s still retained after 30 years!) in the '70s, that to question Church authority was a Mortal Sin, broke the 5th commandment right there, and arguably the first, since priests are the representative of Jesus during the Mass. So, we were trained to be obedient to these people because of the religious indoctrination. There is no way to revolt in this belief system, therefore it is a static unchanging block. It will, and could conceivably happen very soon, destroy the Catholic Church.

  • Ace

    DR – I was referring more to Christians who claim they are marginalized, to the white, protestant men who whine that they are persecuted, and every other priveleged group that wants to act like it's being discriminated against because it perceives attempts to make disadvantaged groups more "equal to" as taking something *away* from them, or being "unfair' or giving minorities "special treatment". And a lot of these folks really truly do believe they are the ones being treated unfairly because they are slowly losing the "more than" they are used to and perceive as "equal to". They won't be happy and feel they are treated fair until they have "more than".

    I'm not talking about gay people wanting marriage rights or athiests not wanting their children being given an education in a religion they don't adhere to, which is definitely not an "equal to" situation. You kinda misread what I was saying. Actually, you completely misread what I was saying.

  • DR

    @ old stuff:

    Umm, this is the sticky wicket in the discussion. To discuss this topic with a lot of fervent Christians this point is a basic truth in the discussion. WE, as people living outside the faith have to be willing to feel belittled because of the ‘unassailable truth’ in your statement that all of you have a direct pipeline from your thoughts to God’s ears. I know I do not, nor do I expect, to think myself worthy of such a privilege. Therefore, from the outside looking in, that is a pretty haughty idea.>>>

    It is a sticky wicket. But perhaps it doesn't have to be. if you or me or anyone else is walking in to a conversation, we know what we're doing. We're all fairly bright here, capable of assessing who we're dealing with and we also probably know why. Perhaps we have more control over our emotions than we think we do.

    I watch Christians constantly choose to be offended by what is offered to us. At times, by very reasonable people who are – yes – angry, but if you choose to really listen past the anger, you understand why. At that point, being offended is more of a choice.

    Similarly, an atheist can come to a forum where a Christian author is speaking from his life, his heart and what he believes his experience of God to be. He or she can say "They really do see the world through this filter, not my own." . You can choose to get past the initial raised hairs on the back of your neck realizing that's your own issue, not John's or any other Christian. Or not. I can get my panties in a defensive wad when I hear someone calling me a "sheep" and just stop paying attention. I'm in the same boat.

    If neither of us choose to go past how all of this *feels*, we'll never get to be educated by the other. And if we choose not to be educated by the other? Then I suppose that reveals more about ourselves than anyone else.

  • DR

    You nailed the main issue I have when it comes to dialoguing with many a Christian: the presumption that before I even speak that I; as a non-Christian; obviously doesnt know jackcrap about god and anything spiritual. It’s like we have to prove ourselves to them. Which of course is impossible since we are not Christian.>>>

    Hi Julia. Julia and Katy are my favorite names. I might rename myself Julia. Would you mind? Anyway.

    I hear what you're saying. The suggestions of anyone knowing anything is kind of stupid, but in my direct experience, atheists know more about the history of the Church and have even read more of the Bible than a lot of Christians. And they most certainly can educate us on how we've influenced the laws in America.

    I kind of wonder if a lot of this comes down to expectations. It's got to be pretty unsettling for people who aren't religious to experience a Christian who from the get go, has already decided who you are, what you are, particularly according to God, what you know, what you don't know and what you need to know. All in the name of a God who is supposed to love you unconditionally.

    It's like someone who is pro-life who approaches a woman who is pro-choice with an opening statement of "I'm sorry you don't really understand what this issue really means. You're a murderer, but in the name of Jesus I love you and would really like to get to know you for exactly who you are."

  • Roybe

    "But perhaps it doesn’t have to be. if you or me or anyone else is walking in to a conversation, we know what we’re doing. "

    I agree wholeheartedly, only reason I started posting was that I came to see a 'controlled' safe feeling place to post, where the discourse wasn't belittling. I also agree 'bomb droppers' can be disturbing to a topic, as well as trolls can disrupt a whole thread. However, there is a valid point being made in this particular case, however badly it was executed.

    As I said, it's the fervent that make this a hard pill to swallow, particularly in RL, since if I want to meet them it's on their turf with no middle ground given. It's just gets frustrating at times to deal with that tone.

  • DR

    @ roybe:

    "There is no way to revolt in this belief system, therefore it is a static unchanging block. It will, and could conceivably happen very soon, destroy the Catholic Church."

    Thank you for this – I made it much too simple, this helps paint the reality of what so many are experiencing or were held hostage to. When I listen to what my dad experienced as a young Catholic growing up, it makes me cry. And I don't even like my dad very much. Fear and control are so woven into the institutionalized beliefs, no wonder some feel this tremendous relief when they escape it. And no wonder it's so hard to escape.

    I think the Catholic Church is being destroyed. But as one who is still in love with the sacraments and so much of the spiritual belief that is within Catholicism, I see it as a deep purification. I hope that's the case.

  • DR

    @Ace: Hi there. I'm sorry! I got a bit confused by how the comments were laid out, I just went back and read the original comment to which you were responding. I completely misread you. Thanks for telling me. Apologies.

  • Whoa, whoa, whoa…

    As much as I appreciate your pulling me into the discussion and assigning deeper meanings, I only come on here to rank on John, because he's an ol' buddy, and certainly not to engage in thoughtful debate. When I say "you," I mean, literally, John Shore, not "y'all Christians."

    I'm being entirely tongue in cheek. I'm as lovable as can be. Even God loves me just as I am, I'm just too ignorant to realize that.

    See? Still tongue in cheek.

    And for that I'll burn in hell, I'm just too ignorant to realize that as well.

    Ow -cheek hurting from depth of penetration.

    I'll try to behave better. I won't succeed, but I'll try. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. There I go again!

    I like you guys a lot, by the way.


  • DR


    How DARE you suggest that you're here for another reason. I think I'm the expert on all things Dennis. So there.

    (sorry buddy. I've…had a lot of coffee today).

  • Old Stuff

    Just a couple of things DR:

    The bible is not the basis of our laws. The bible is just one in a line of documents that recognized the negative aspects of lying, cheating, stealing and murder. I will grant that a majority of our founding fathers were Christian and used that framework….but the laws predate the bible and, in some ways, predate our species.

    “I immediately thought of what Christians are looking to the Catholic Church to do – to apologize *on behalf of* the microscopic amount of Priests who are pedophiles and the clergy that hid them. “

    As a former Catholic [I just formally defected from the RCC with a scathing letter to the Cardinal George in Chicago] I am careful to distinguish between Catholics and the Catholic Church. The vast majority Catholics are perfectly reasonable and, in my experience, recognize that patently wrong things about Catholic teachings on contraception, clergy celibacy, women and more. The Catholic Church, however, is far more concerned with protecting the power structure than serving the lay-Catholic. With more revelations from Ireland and Wisconsin; we see clearly the decades of unspeakable abuse of the most vulnerable among us that, necessarily, would require collusion from the highest levels. We even have Ratzinger’s signature on a letter that placed the church ahead of protecting victimized Wisconsin children. Catholics (like any other population) are, by and large, decent caring people. The Catholic Church has demonstrated that it is a vile organization. (IMHO)

  • Roybe

    “The neo-conservative movement dressed-up as “christian” that is currently trying to turn this nation into nothing short of a theocracy with a “christian” version of Sharia law is completely horrifying”

    Preaching to the choir on that! However, by “dressing the wolf in The Lamb’s clothing”, the NeCons are able to bring a good % of the 80% in the country with them. Heck, I was a Democrat AND voted for Reagan, because he was able to address the issues in a moral way that agreed with my religious sensibilities of that time. Now the hyperbole is so caustic, I felt like I was in a revival tent the last few times I heard Conservatives speaking in various venues.

  • Bill

    You've said it well enuf that I need not comment on your article, but I do want to comment on the illustration….the statue. Finally, an anatomically correct illustration in a Christian themed blog. Bout time. Good to see the times of Papal restrictions on David statues is past. By the way, have you seen the "gay" versions of David?!!!!!!!!

  • Roybe

    Well, I did point out something about bomb droppers! However, even though a flippant comment, aimed at pulling someone’s leg, it still has something to say about the current topic! Nice going!

  • Ash

    your response and situation makes me wonder if Paul went through the same thing from some of his probably-erstwhile-buddies among the Pharisees after he (Paul) switched sides.