A few weeks ago, my friend Keith Giles asked me if I would watch a YouTube video by Sean McDowell and Baylor sociologist George Yancey, so that we could respond to it. Our reaction video can be found here. The topic of McDowell’s interview was about whether conservative Christianity and progressive Christianity are different religions. The conclusion was essentially “yes,” and thus conservatives are the de facto correct faith.
During this discussion, one thing, among others, that stood out to me was that based on Yancey’s research, progressive Christians are less tolerant toward conservative Christians than conservative Christians are towards progressives. He did admit that progressives are more tolerant in general, but not toward conservatism.
Now, I have no idea what Yancey’s methodology was. I don’t know who he spoke to in order to discover this. I don’t know how he worded his questions. Just that, based on his research, the general consensus is that progressives are intolerant, hate-filled hypocrites, but that conservatives see progressives as people who, and I quote, “just think differently.”
Just think differently?!
Okay, certainly there are some conservatives who conclude this. There are tolerant conservative Christians who don’t view progressive Christians with pure, unadulterated disdain. But let’s be crystal clear: This isn’t the general feel I get from them.
Case in point: Their own comment section!
“Progressives could just as easily replace Jesus with Mr. Rogers and they could have produced the same “inclusive” religion of niceness. Why don’t they refer to themselves as Mr. Rogerites or Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood?”
“Uh, coexist and respect for the progressive; yes, respect because they are, as all people are, made in the image of God. But coexist….this is their eternity that is at stake.”
“The reason that there is a lack of conversation between progressives and biblical Christians is what you already stated at the beginning of the video; progressives highly, highly dislike Bible believing Christians, those that say Jesus is the only way and the Bible is God’s inerrant Word.”
“I think a large part of this discussion is linked to the term Progressive ‘Christian’. To me, that term is not accurate to the progressive group, that the word ‘Christian’ is no longer applicable.”
“Absolutely different faiths, they (“Progressives”) should shed the label Christian.”
So, no, conservative Christians don’t typically think of progressives as “those who just think differently.” It’s much more vitriolic than that. Progressive Christians aren’t even Christians.
Speaking of vitriolic, and something I mentioned in our reaction video, is the hate I’ve gotten from some of you on this very blog. Just in the past year, here’s a collection of some of the best of the best, courtesy of conservative Christians who go a little further than accusing me of “just thinking differently”:
“So, the skinny, effeminate nerd doesn’t like Christians? Then run far away, nerd. We will miss you like a kidney stone. If you’re a Christian, Satan is a Christian. The only thing you ever worship is your own wide, dirty, diseased аsshоle.”
“It’s obvious that you hate God, Jesus, and Scripture.”
“You are a liar. The LGBTQ wants all kinds of special rights, even to the point of forcing people to accept them. I’m not going to accept their chosen, sinful lifestyles. I’ll accept the person, but I won’t accept there [sic] sins.”
“We are living in dangerous times as the Bible prophesied. Repent to Jesus Christ and do not reject him because if you reject Christ, hell is the place you will end up in.”
“A load of B.S.”
“In the good old days, you could lynch heretics in the name of purity. Unfortunately, purity is a thing of the past, even for so-called Christians.”
“You are a fool. Wake up!!!”
“Mr. Distefano needs to take a deep breath and a Xanax. Then he needs to guarantee that any and all who believe him and take him on his guess that hell isn’t literal that he will increase his literal time there on behalf of all who follow him.”
“Dude, you’re the worst type of ‘Christian’ author. Because you could be taken seriously by those that don’t know any better. I hope your dream of Christian Buddhism fails. You’re a joke.”
“You’re not a Christian. You love your god Satan and worship him.”
So, Sean and George, if you’re reading this – and I’m sure you are because who doesn’t read my blog?! – could you please at least admit something? While there are certainly progressives who are intolerant, can we not pretend that conservatives are any more inclusive and kind? You may feel the need to conclude that progressive Christianity is an entirely different religion than conservative Christianity, kinda like how Buddhism broke off of Hinduism, but to my mind, that’s just another way of exposing yourselves as the intolerant gatekeepers people claim you are.
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