Final Thoughts Inspired by “God’s Not Dead”: What Makes Some Evangelicals So Intolerable

Final Thoughts Inspired by “God’s Not Dead”: What Makes Some Evangelicals So Intolerable March 31, 2014

In response to the wide interest in my posts on this film, I am now challenging fans of the film (and offering theists and atheists of all stripes) to study with me, a real atheist philosophy professor. We will dig in to the real arguments for and against God, from real philosophers, theist and atheist. Check it out:


In one of my reviews of the movie God’s Not Dead I severely criticized the end of the film, in which a pair of Christian pastors act like EMTs of the Gospel–trying to administer salvation to a dying non-Christian with all the seriousness and urgency with which real EMTs would try to keep someone physically alive. I complained about the exploitative ways in which opportunistic evangelical Christians will try to use any physical, emotional, spiritual, or intellectual weakness they can find in someone as an opening to convert them. I railed against the way Christian ministers prowl hospitals looking for vulnerable people to prey upon.

But, nonetheless, I have defiant responses from evangelical Christians who say, “I don’t care if you don’t like it, but if we can save people’s souls from damnation, we’re going to do it. It’s more important than the feelings of atheists.” Similarly, on Facebook, I complained that evangelical Christians’ idea of loving their enemies is so thoughtless and selfish as to be reminiscent of the time Homer Simpson gave his wife Marge a bowling ball for her birthday even though she wasn’t a bowler (even being so audacious as to put his own name on the bowling ball–purportedly “so she would remember it was from him”). My point was that Evangelical Christians routinely love people merely as a means of converting them. The gift they want to give you is what they want (your conversion), not necessarily what you want.

They turn people into projects. They listen to your troubles, they give you charity, they slobberingly “love on you”, but all only with one fundamental end goal in mind: making you one of them. What they really love is not you but Christianity (or, as they would put it, Jesus). They love their tribe. They love the idea of you belonging to it.

They are not interested in respecting people on their own terms, they are not interested in people figuring out how they themselves as individuals might flourish best even if that means living outside the one size fits all models for life provided by Evangelical Christianity, and they are not interested in mutually learning from those they are trying to evangelize. They hate the “worldliness” and the “sin” of those they see as salvation projects. They categorically reject all life paths that deviate from their Evangelical Christian one as fundamentally the path of destruction.

God’s Not Dead epitomizes this Evangelical Christian idea of love. Its idea of inclusiveness is to say “Don’t worry, it’s not the Muslim girl’s fault she was born into a Muslim family, she can become a Christian too!” and “Look at how awful atheists are, but also realize that deep down they are just hurting and want Jesus too–and if they’re not, God will pay them back with hell, so don’t worry!”

There is no genuine ability to find the common humanity between people that is necessary for genuine love across principled differences. There is no attempt to say, “well maybe you and I construct our abstract beliefs differently and have some sincere differences in values, but in our own ways we each embody real virtues and good will that can connect us anyway”. That’s what learning to actually love those who are your ideological enemies would entail. Love of enemies might even add a distinctly Nietzschean dimension and be something like an appreciation for those who challenge you the hardest because they push you to become your best.

In a film where Christians were true to Jesus’s command to love their enemies, the filmmakers would have chosen to portray an admirably sincere, smart, and fair atheist professor who brings out the best in his Christian student by motivating him to think harder, rather than making the atheist professor gratuitously rotten (even in ways that had nothing to do with making him a tough intellectual foil or a challenge in the classroom). The film could have encouraged Christians to appreciate others who are different and how even their seeming enemies can be aids to their own personal growth. The film could have encouraged the Christian audience to see the common humanity and good will that can be shared even between people who see the world differently.

But many evangelical Christians–not all of course, but certainly the Christians making and supporting this movie that vilifies atheists with no nuance, and allows the atheists’ only moments as sympathetic to be those in which they are either hurting or outright receptive to becoming Christians–only see one reason and one way to love non-Christians: as potential Christians.

In fact, I find it striking how readily and bitterly many such Christians abandon pretense of even being nice to me when I present myself unequivocally as opposed to their faith on this blog. All the taunts about how I’m going to hell. All the angry insistences that I just shouldn’t care so much about them and should leave the whole subject of religion alone if I am not going to believe as they do. Again, there are some Christians and some Catholics who are able to rise above this mindset. I do not mean to stereotype. I have some wonderful friendships with Christians, including a number with whom I argue extensively about religion without damage to our mutual love. I will even go so far as to say that one of the very most non-judgmental, welcoming, loving, and civil discussants of religious matters I have ever met was someone who also had some of the most extreme religious views of any one I know. So I unequivocally can affirm that not all Christians fail in this regard.

But it is telling what numbers of Christians are out there who write off me and other unapologetic atheists as unworthy of respect, let alone love. It is telling how many recoil in self-pity and feelings of persecution over intellectual and moral challenges, rather than persist in the unconditional acceptance Jesus supposedly modeled for them.

As a former Christian, these responses to non-Christians always strike me as the most indicting failures of Christians to be Christians. If you don’t know how to hang out with the supposed sinners and your society’s outcasts and your putative enemies or to treat them as equals, and not judge them, then you really don’t know how to do the really hard and impressive thing that Jesus models and commands from you. There’s nothing impressive about your love when it takes the form of a desire to assimilate. That’s basic tribalism you are exhibiting. Christianity is only a step away from tribalism in that it invites outsiders into the tribe. This is where, as a universalistic religion, it represented one of the cultural moves past merely ethnic religions and merely ethnic loyalties. But even at its inception it was decidedly not, and often remains not, the kind of universalistic religion that is tolerant of other religions. This is a jealous religion. A sizable segment of Christianity believes all the world must be Christian or there is something fundamentally wicked and damaged about it.

This is why I have a hard time with people who tell me I should stop opposing religious beliefs that “hurt no one” and should only be agitated about those with political consequences (like hostility to gays). They say I should keep quiet about my objections to theological beliefs I think are false. I should leave alone those who merely believe Jesus died for their sins so they can to heaven, because that’s just their private business. They just want hope. They don’t hurt anyone.

But, it’s not just their private business. I am fully supportive of their legal rights to believe and worship as they wish. They can express their faith however they want, so long as they don’t try to abuse their other roles in life to bully people to live according to their faith, lest they be denied equality. They shouldn’t as legislators base laws on their faith rather than their reason. As doctors, their patients’ medical needs and legally backed up values legally should come first. As providers of adoption or flowers they shouldn’t be legally allowed to deny gay people their services. As employers they shouldn’t dictate the private lives or constrain the health care options of their employees who may not share their faith. They shouldn’t trample all over the rights of people to exercise their own religious consciences, including the right to have no religion.

In other words, I do not want you to exploit your positions of power over others to gain leverage to impose your religious beliefs on people who do not share them. I want you to respect that others don’t share your beliefs and to make the compromises of a civil and secular society in which we respect each other’s rights to disagree and treat each other as equals. This means I want you to restrain your faith so that it does not make you incapable of performing roles that involve sometimes putting your personal views aside in order to treat others fairly.

And within the private sphere where you’re allowed to say whatever you want, I am also allowed to express my views without you falsely crying persecution. I have every right and every moral justification I need to raise my intellectual objections to your ideas that I think are false and to level my moral and social criticisms of your behaviors. I am tired of you defending your manipulative and pushy forms of proselytization as justifiable on account that you are simply being true to your sincere beliefs. You claim that since you really believe souls are at stake you can’t be blamed for doing everything in your power to convert people or to get people to live as (your interpretation of) your faith teaches. You are bound by conscience, can’t be criticized, and feel no shame or self-doubt when confronted by pissed-off atheists or other non-Christians about your behavior. The reason I am not letting you get away with this is that it’s so irresponsible and hypocritical. You cry, “you cannot complain about how I act on my sincere beliefs” while you show no fucking respect for other people’s beliefs or emotional boundaries. You so regularly try to exempt yourselves from any ethical, politeness, or even legal rules that would require you to treat others who don’t share your views as equally worthy of respect. Then you want tolerance for whatever you do, no matter how bigoted it might be, by pleading the sincerity of your convictions.

It is absurd to let you get away with saying both, “I am intellectually entitled to believe however I want by faith and to willfully ignore counter-arguments if I wish” and “I am compelled by my beliefs to turn other people into proselytization projects, to pressure them into denying their homosexuality, to raise my children in a bubble protected from evolution and any kind of sex education that is not abstinence only, etc.” When you are going to live by your beliefs and promulgate your beliefs and dictate to gay people, and/or including your own children, about how they must live, you had better be able to give a rational accounting of why your beliefs are right, one at least plausible to people who don’t share your faith and far preferably one that is downright airtight.

Morally, you don’t get to “simply believe”. That’s a copout. That’s irresponsible. It’s an attempt to declaim all blame for every harm your false beliefs can traceably do on the grounds that you believed sincerely, when in the first place you did not subject your beliefs to adequate rational scrutiny to determine whether you should believe them sincerely. You do the very opposite, you passionately commit your heart, mind, soul, and strength in advance of all evidence and in the teeth of new counter-evidence, in order to maintain your beliefs. So I don’t want to hear that there’s nothing you can do but what your beliefs tell you to do. It’s morally unacceptable when you wind up hurting people because you were intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and morally reckless. With great faith should come even greater moral accountability and scrutiny, not less. The dogmatic self-satisfaction of the faithful who dismiss the arguments of the heathens as irrelevant deserve no respect on the account of the “sincerity” that their contemptuousness has.

So, if you act like a vulture and try to exploit the sick and the dying or the susceptibility of children in order to manipulate them into conversions, I don’t want to hear that it’s just you acting on your sincere belief that without Christ people go to hell. You are responsible for those sincere beliefs about hell that you use to terrify children into obedience and abstinence with. You are responsible for those sincere beliefs that make you indifferent to whether non-Christians have intellectual autonomy and the ability to reason clearly and uncoerced about spiritual matters.

I oppose false hopes, false moralities, and false beliefs, even when they don’t have immediate negative political consequences, because they are tangible obstacles to the better hopes, better moralities, and better beliefs that would be grounded in reality and revisable as new information comes in and new ideas are advanced. Your belief in heaven is not only some harmless safety blanket when it comes intertwined with a vicious belief in hell that has countless consequences for how you judge and treat other people. Your belief that Jesus died for your sins is not just your idiosyncratic psychological mechanism for forgiving yourself when it has you dividing the whole world into the saved and the unsaved. Your belief God is sovereign over all things is not just your harmless way of feeling like the world is not too chaotic and out of control for you to handle when it leads you to the mindset that Christ must be Lord over very aspect of private and public life and, accordingly, you start domineering people socially and politically. These beliefs filter into ethics. They have to be seriously opposed by people who have good reasons to think they’re false and that the ethics that stem from them are bad.

Legally and politically I have no desire to take away your rights to speak, Evangelical Christians. I eagerly defend your freedom of speech. I just dare you to actually listen as much as you speak and to actually respond to what is said instead of just pummeling the straw men in your mind. There is more to life than politics. What we believe matters. What our ethics and larger values are matters. We are all entitled to think freely, in an open-ended way, bound only by reason and evidence in forming our conclusions. Christians, to one extent or another, try to bind reason to either Jesus or the Christian tradition. In doing so, they are responsible for any bad thinking, bad ethics, or bad manners that falls out from that. Just appealing to the sincerity of their beliefs is insufficient when they are so abominably lazy and dishonest in how they form their beliefs.

Your Thoughts?

Having criticized some Evangelical Christians’ approaches to evangelism so vigorously here, in a follow up post I decided to give ten bits of sincere advice about how Christians might evangelize that are both more ethical and, likely, more effective. And in response to the wide interest in my posts on this film, I am now challenging fans of the film (and offering theists and atheists of all stripes) to study with me, a real atheist philosophy professor. We will dig in to the real arguments for and against God, from real philosophers, theist and atheist, in a new class which you can take with me.

Also on the themes of this post see:
Love Religious People (a post reflecting on how to love one’s enemies.)
Why I Define Faith As Inherently Irrational and Immoral

There is more to analyze in this film. So I have also written three other posts about it. How God’s Not Dead Makes Christians Look Even Worse Than AtheistsWhy I Wrote A Bad Movie Review of God’s Not Dead, and a nearly exhaustive 13,000 word treatment of everything the film says or implies about philosophy for any apologists impressed with the film to grapple with. If you just want to read my much shorter criticisms of a few particular portions of the film, you can use the table of contents that I wrote for the long post to find where I address just the topic of interest to you.

1. Introduction
2. The Hypocrisy of Christian Statements of Faith
3. Why Leaving Theology Out of Philosophy Isn’t Persecuting Students
4. Philosophy Is Not Authority Based The Way Theology Is
5. The Students in the Movie Already Believed in God 
6. How I Graded Religious Students Who Disagreed With Me
7. Demanding Philosophical Reasons For Religious Beliefs Is Not Religious Persecution 

8. Arguments Over Cosmology (God vs. Naturalistic Eternalism)
9. Creating A Strawman of Philosophers is a Lazy Copout 
10. Why Do Christians Say Atheists Disbelieve for Emotional Reasons?
11. Who Really Are the Humble Ones More Likely to Say “I Don’t Know”? The Christians or the atheists?
12. Why Do Some Atheists Say They Do Know There’s No God? Are Atheists Hypocritically People of Faith Too? 
13. If Antitheists Are Bad People, Evangelicals Are Downright Awful 
14. If Professor Radisson’s A Bad Guy, The Christian God is the Worst Possible Bad Guy
15. God of the Gaps and the Origin of Life
16. How Science and Philosophy Vindicate Metaphysical Naturalism and the Existence of Religious Scientists Doesn’t Vindicate Theism
17. Why Explaining Evolution with God is Anti-Science
18. Is Philosophy Dead?
19. Why The Film Didn’t Actually Care About Proving God’s Existence
20. The Problem of Evil
21. The Appeal to Need for Absolute Morality

Your Thoughts?


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  • RhubarbTheBear

    It would be so incredibly easy for me to answer this post in the language and emotions I possessed as a young evangelical. I can still say it and I can still feel it. The fear, the panic, the utter terror that souls would be lost and burn forever… and that it would be partly my fault because I wasn’t good at talking them into belief. The contradictions that result from taking these views to their logical conclusion are a large part of why I no longer believe.

  • randomfactor

    “you cannot complain about how I act on my sincere beliefs”

    Then YOU cannot complain when I oppose you sincerely in the public square. You get only those rights you allow others.

    • Cafeeine

      No, they can’t, which is exactly why they have to re-frame your objection as something insincere.
      The narrative believed by this type of Christian (which is present in strains in Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as well as Evangelicals) does not allow for honest dissent. Everyone knows the Truth, they are suppressing it unrighteousness, so any claim to a rational argument is a smokescreen and pretense. And as pretense, they do not feel obligated to allow it any mental space.

  • Thank you for stating this truth so forcefully. As a non-Christian — and especially as a Jew — the scariest thing about Evangelical Christians is that they truly want to put an end to every idea other than their own. There is a long history of Christians putting an end to hated ideas by putting an end to the people that hold those ideas. EVERY “Christian nation” for the past 1500 years (except for short periods in the Netherlands and Denmark) has either excluded Jews altogether or made periodic attempts to eradicate their Jewish population. It is PRECISELY the fact that America was not formed as a Christian nation that makes it habitable and even comfortable for not only Jews, but other non-Christians. And it is precisely the subset of Christians who want to turn this land into a Christian Nation who give aid and comfort to nativists who denigrate and terrorize Muslims, Jews, and others “outside the tribe”. The only good thing about this consistent over-reach is that their lack of respect for conversation partners severely hampers their effort to proselytize anyone with a grain of self-respect. We can therefore hope that they will forever remain in the minority.

    • Brava, Shira, well said.

    • MNb

      “except for short periods in the Netherlands and Denmark”
      Well, I don’t know what you call short, but The Netherlands gave jews equal rights in 1796. The catholics got them a year before.
      The last pogrom in The Netherlands (besides 1940-1945) was in 1348, related to the Black Plague. Since the 80-Years War antipapism was always stronger in The Netherlands north of the big rivers than antisemitism. The main cause seems to be indifference (which explains why jews received so little help during 1940-45).
      Things went a bit different in The Dutch Republic during the Golden Age than in the USA. It was supposed to be a christian nation, but the political-economical elite who ruled the country (the regents) always gave priority to trade interests at the cost of religious bigotry. If someone threatened the status quo though he could run into serious trouble:

      That explains why Spinoza published all his books except Ethics during his lifetime.
      Still jews generally weren’t worse off than catholics and a lot better off than in several other countries.

    • Mnb — So, we can quibble about how short “short” is, but let me clarify my thinking. I had in mind the period starting in the 1620s when Jews were granted specific rights (including the right to practice their own religion) which were, in theory, defensible against Christians. These were not rights EQUAL to those of Christians, but there is an incalculable difference between rights of any sort and the sort of existence on sufferance that Jews had at that time in other places, and before that time in the Netherlands. The Netherlands maintained that status until Jews were eventually granted full rights as ordinary citizens a bit less than 200 years later. At this latter point, I would cease to call the Netherlands a “Christian nation”, since Christians did not have a special status as opposed to other groups.

      You may well know more European history than I do. I will certainly accept correction on any aspect of my analysis that is incorrect!

    • MNb

      Guess so – I’m a Dutchman. I leave it up to you to define “short” in this case.

      “These were not rights EQUAL to those of Christians”
      This is incorrect for The Netherlands. Must be “These were not rights EQUAL to those of calvinists. All other religions, not only the jewish one, were second rate for the law up to 1795. While I’m not entirely sure – I couldn’t find any research on this subject on internet – it wouldn’t surprise me if catholics were actually lower on the ladder.

      “the sort of existence on sufferance that Jews had at that time in other places, and before that time in the Netherlands”
      You’ll have to back this up. I have never met any evidence for this. One reason of course is that until the Reconquista was finished in 1492 only few jews lived in what would become The Netherlands. Afterwards many Spanish and Portuguese jews found refugee there; I’m not aware of any persecution or other forms of suffering. The rest of Europe is another story of course.
      Again Spinoza is the famous example; his ancestors were Portuguese.

    • Yes, I agree with you that the Netherlands was well ahead of other countries in terms of how it treated Jews, at least as of 1622. Can you give an example before 1622 in which Jews in any Christian nation had any kind of enforceable legal rights? (Forgive me if I count Calvinists as Christians. From my point of view, the differences are pretty minor!) As far as I know, Jews living in the Netherlands before that point were given permission to live in the domain of a local ruler, who was free to allow or not allow whatever he wished, and to change his mind at a moment’s notice. The idea that Jews had a distinct legal status, with certain delineated rights, was by then quite established within Islamic lands (though there were sometimes attacks despite that fact.) But I don’t know of a Christian nation before 17th-century Netherlands where this was the case. The difference between having SOME kind of legal status, even an inferior one, and NO legal status at all is very real — just ask any modern-day “stateless” person. That is the distinction I am trying to point out in my original comment, and (within Christendom), the first instance of Jews having legal status was, afaik, in the Netherlands. Denmark followed shortly.

    • Lucas Glenn

      I don’t totally share your positive outlook that you close with Shira, or at least not for the reason that you share. Plenty of people with more than a grain of self-respect find themselves susceptible to Evangelical evangelism (for many reasons I’m sure, e.g. they are going through a tough time and are looking for help). But maybe, just maybe, enough of Jesus’ message to love your neighbor as yourself -and your enemies too – finds its way into some of the folks to counteract the systematic hate they are being taught… or that they just read Dan’s blog.

    • You may be right… I myself was immediately put off by the punitive, tribalistic versions of Christianity I encountered from childhood on. I cannot really speak for what motivates those who find something attractive there. Still, the seed of my stubbornness was always the sense that “these guys are telling me I’m terrible, or worthless, or lost, or whatever, and they don’t know anything about me, and besides, I don’t see anything wonderful about them that I lack and wish to acquire…” I think of that attitude as self-respect, but perhaps there is a better name for it?

  • Chris

    So you know I am almost 100% with you here, but I do want to critique your word choice at the end. You say they are “lazy” in forming their beliefs, but this is in many cases not true. They work very hard to form and perfect their beliefs, but they do so in the wrong way. How many atheists do you know who attend a weekly ethics study or something of that sort? Evangelicals especially put in a tremendous amount of effort to have the *right* beliefs. Thus, it is not merely the effort which matters but also the process itself.

    Someone might say, “Man, I worked all day to put together this piece of furniture!” But you saw them, so you say, “Yeah, but you were trying to place the screws with a hammer.” The effort itself is only part of the equation, so I would again not call them lazy so much as misguided.

    • Good point. I’m struggling to think of how to accurately express my real target.

      There’s a laziness dimension in never venturing outside your church for answers (as is the case with so many). But the more likely they are to become proselytizers, the more likely they are to put great effort into understanding their beliefs and internally getting them to be consistent.

    • Chris

      The primary vice of evangelicalism is fear, not laziness. Their epistemic problems stem from fear of seeking answers from places that don’t seem as easy to grasp as treating the Bible as a closed and final system of ethical principles. Their relational problems stem from fear of Hell for the unbeliever. In almost all cases, fear is the culprit.

      I don’t know if you listen to metal, but you should go listen to Meshuggah’s album “Koloss” or at least read the lyrics. It captures so much of the problems we face.

    • “Their epistemic problems stem from fear of seeking answers from places that don’t seem as easy to grasp as treating the Bible as a closed and final system of ethical principles.”

      I don’t think they’re all as afraid of the intellectual challenge as that. I think they’re fundamentally more deeply afraid of betraying a deep identity and personal commitment to Jesus, their family, their community, etc. It is burrowed deep into people’s brains that deconverting means being a traitor.

    • Chris

      I think there’s a bit of both of these things, given the common response I hear of, “If you abandon the Bible, then who determines what is right and wrong?” The Bible as divine revelation serves to close all the gaps we may have in moral reasoning as much as it does in science.

      I propose that the fear comes in stages, first when one is oblivious to the problems with the Bible, and second when one grows in awareness but still does not want to abandon something sacred. What I described comes in at the first, and it slowly transitions into what you described as people learn about further objections.

    • MNb

      careless? close-minded?

  • mikespeir

    “In a film where Christians were true to Jesus’s command to love their
    enemies, the filmmakers would have chosen to portray an admirably
    sincere, smart, and fair atheist professor who brings out the best in
    his Christian student by motivating him to think harder, rather than
    making the atheist professor gratuitously rotten (even in ways that had
    nothing to do with making him a tough intellectual foil or a challenge
    in the classroom).”


  • Fallulah

    You’re intolerant of my intolerance!! How dare you! Thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy, THEY are the only ones with sincerely held beliefs…the rest of us just aren’t sincere enough.

  • The Homeschool Apostate

    Thank you

    Pretty well summarizes my current thoughts and many I had as a christian. I felt like there was so much preying on people in vulnerable situations it was ridiculous. Heck, I was a worship leader and I began realizing what we were doing was priming the environment emotionally.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Rev. Austin Miles of Breitbart News Network liked it.

    This superb movie should not be missed. Christians, atheists and
    everybody else will get something out of this while seeing a great film
    with very fine actors. I encourage families to attend it and by all
    means take your kids. You will be glad you did.

    • RhubarbTheBear


  • The Man With The Name Too Long

    Now that you mention it. It isn’t too clear what “love your enemies” even means. I mean, I’d wager to say that the average Christian believes that God loves everyone. But this is the same God who supposedly drowns the entire planet, including babies and sends bears to maul children to death for calling a prophet bald. So clearly, “love your enemies” does not mean necessarily to treat them gently if we’re to take the way God treats his creation as love. I don’t believe that loving your enemies makes you a better person, but treating them fairly and considerately does. And what was that whole “I came to bring not peace but a sword” and “Whoever loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” stuff about?

    • ThaneOfDrones

      It’s a translation error, the original was “F*ck your enemies.”


    Thank you for calling attention to this wicked recklessness. A lot of damage is being wreaked because of it. And every single Christian who says he or she loved that movie is part of the problem.

  • MNb

    You have no idea how well this applies to the relationship I have with a professing muslima – now going strong for more than 10 years. She is exactly the opposite of the fundie you describe here.

    “In a film where Christians were true …”
    This one is not too bad, despite the low rating:

    “how readily and bitterly ”
    That’s my experience too. Me being a nasty guy I never hesitate to point out the lack of humility (Jesus’ most important virtue!) and agape these “christians” display. In my view that’s the biggest failure of christianity.

    “because you were intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and morally reckless.”
    I cannot let pass the opportunity to show how nasty I am indeed: this is what I mean when I use the infamous s-word (six letters).

  • InDogITrust


  • “Rebecca”

    I don’t think anything makes me as mad recently as people who insist that their Christian beliefs are just personal and they wouldn’t push them on anybody, but then somehow their kids mysteriously wind up believing in Jesus in exactly the same way as they do. Funny that.

  • Lucas Glenn

    You have a Patheos comrade in your fight against “God’s not dead”…

  • You wrote a lot of true things about Evangelical Christians like myself though we should note that we don’t have a monopoly on those characteristics. One of the troubles with tribalism is the belief in the externalization of faults and evil to those outside of one’s group. And because of the Biblical warnings against worldliness, we have a tendency to be tribal and thus we have films like the one being referred to here.

    But we should note that what is written here seems to use American Evangelical Christians as its data sample. Would the same observations be made of Evangelical Christians from other countries? I write that because we might want to examine to what degree are the observed faults of Evangelical Christians possibly due other cultural values–this is not to deny our personal faults. We should note that much of what we see in Evangelical Christianity comes from American culture outside of the Church. And this is especially true when it comes to self-centeredness.

    One possible source for our self-centeredness could be our economic system. After all, it is a system that depends on self-interest for guidance and strength. So we should note what Marx said about Capitalism here. One of his objections to it is that it would reduce all human interactions to the question of what can one get for oneself. So our economic system might play a role in any excessive self-interest we see in people regardless of their religious beliefs. And there are other cultural values that could come into play.

    Perhaps when examining the faults of other individuals or groups, Jesus’ parable of the two men praying could serve as a guide. For in that parable Jesus describes the Pharisee, that is the religious professional, as gloating over himself while condemning the tax collector. The tax collector could only see his own faults. Not that we should only see our own faults in all situations, but it seems that anybody regardless of their religious beliefs can play the role of the pharisee.

  • Eric Zelig

    If Christians truly believe that the finite decisions of this life have eternal consequences for the next, it would be FAR more insulting for them not to share their views with others. Similarly, if the atheistic worldview is carried to it’s inevitable conclusions, it doesn’t matter one way or the other. So why not accept proselytization as a complement and move on?

    • If Christians truly believe that the finite decisions of this life have eternal consequences for the next, it would be FAR more insulting for them not to share their views with others.

      Share, perhaps. Persistence is the more pressing issue; there is nothing wrong with sharing an opinion, even if strongly held or compelled by some moral calculus, but there is definitely something wrong with persisting in attempting to communicate that opinion long after the audience has told the interlocutor to buzz off.

      Similarly, if the atheistic worldview is carried to it’s inevitable conclusions, it doesn’t matter one way or the other.

      The “atheistic worldview” is not a thing, though if you are trying to draw inferences from what most atheist worldviews share in common (no afterlife), then it certainly does matter; life is a phenomenon bounded most obviously by finite time, and so time wasted is value irrecoverably lost.

      So why not accept proselytization as a compliment and move on?

      Because it isn’t a compliment.

    • If you want non-Christians to join your religion, stop telling us about it and start behaving in such a way that no one who observes you can doubt that you have discovered some sort of truth that the rest of us don’t have. If you can’t do that, then I for one have no more interest in your beliefs than in anyone else’s.

  • Claire Nollet

    Before I became an atheist, I had NO IDEA how hard some theists would jump on you for now being an unbeliever. I had never pushed my former religion on anybody — I figured, if they wanted to know why I was satisfied with it, they’d ask. The way I lived my life would be my witness, because I respected their right to believe or not believe as they chose.

    But then I started telling people I was an atheist after I became one. People reacted with SHOCK and disgust and sorrow — like I had contracted a particularly ugly venereal disease. They started showering me with books and messages trying to convert me back.

    People who had been happy to hear about my descriptions of my prayer shawl group when I was a theist were now disgusted to hear about an atheist picnic I went to — “Stop talking all the time about that atheist stuff.” It really surprised me.

  • Rod Fleming

    Fine until you said this:’some Christians and some Catholics’,at which point it became clear that you have not clue one what you are talking about. Catholics ARE Christians. There is no division. Speaking as a life-long atheist, people like you make me despair. You accept the lies of that which you allegedly criticise. Please, learn. You are not helping by trotting out the bigoted prejudice of one group of Christians against another.

    Atheism will do fine without those who bring the bigotry of religion into it, thanks so very much.