why religious people can be mean

why religious people can be mean July 21, 2011

word as weapon
Marks gospel says about the teaching of Jesus:

They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Some people think that if they have the church and the bible behind them… (and not just any church, but their particular church… and not just any bible but their particular interpretation of it)… then they have authority to say incredibly stupid, inhumane and mean things.

The reason Jesus’ teaching was so different was, unlike the scribes, he didn’t depend on the system or the system’s texts to provide his authority. That’s why it was different. There was authority in what he said. That is, it seemed more true than what the scribes were saying.

This is why, when someone says…

Obviously the bible plainly says this about such-and-such, and those fall into this category are going to hell.

… it doesn’t sound true. It has no affect on the masses because whoever says this is clearly depending on the historical system of the church and its authorized documents to authorize what is being said.

Take away the authority and its text, which more and more people are validly rejecting anyway, and you have nothing but a mean-spirited, loveless and graceless edict against all humanity.

That’s why it is dismissed by everyone except those who cherish authority and its legal documents.

This is how religious people can be so mean.

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  • Elderyl

    I find it is usually the folks who “pick and choose” verses who use the bible to be mean.

  • Sarah

    Since leaving the church- in that sense- and rejecting fear, I found and pursued a completely different way to take any of the texts. I refuse to take them as obligatory. And I became free to actually see the truth and joy behind some of the things.

  • fishon

    No one is meaner than those screaming, “Tolerance, tolerance, tolerance.” Just dare to disagree with the so-called tolerant and you are immediately LABELED ‘mean.’ Especially if you disagree with their sacred cows.

  • If you take Christ out of the Bible then what are you left with?

    This is where the trouble starts.

  • My response is vacillating between

    1. We should round up all these mean people and throw them to the lions. No doubt they deserve to die.

    or

    2. If we are talking about fishon pronouncing Ghandi in hell, the other day, I was going to chastise him because it is not any or our jobs to “send” anyone to hell. I prefer to worry about my own sin. The church’s job is to preach the gospel and forgiveness of sins. The closest we hear in Acts to something like that is: “save yourselves from this wicked generation.” Again worry about yourself and repent yourself. That this generation is wicked we already know. We are wicked ourselves.

    Hell is something people worry about all by themselves. Guilt is a heavy burden and makes life a living hell of sorts already. Even the “heathen” ancients had all kinds of systems to make sure the afterlife was going to go ok and they were not going the wrong way. It is built into us.

    Scripture says that hell was made for the devil and his angels. It is not God’s design for people. People are to turn to the solution he provided, repent and believe. , Jesus came to proclaim liberty to the captives and be the doctor to the sick. He specifically said that he did not come to condemn.

    “Come to me all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

    In terms of Jesus’ authority we know that he also quoted scripture.

    Bottomline, choice between 1 and 2? I am thinking that people are so angry at hearing about hell is because something in us resonates with us about that. Otherwise we would not have this angry response. If you said “the sky is purple”, no one would be angry. But the talk of hell is something that is part of “natural law”, as we speak about it philosophically.

    Anyways, Jesus wants to take care of all of that for us. (Yes!)

  • brigitte: i am not just talking about fishon’s comment about gandhi. i’m also pointing at my tendency to say something believing that some external authority that i subscribe to legitimizes my position. we all can tend to do that. even religious people. the meanness comes in when we feel we can say nasty things and not take ownership because we really do believe the external authority says it and we’re just repeating it. we shift the responsibility from ourselves to an external authority like the institution or its text.

  • There is an external authority…The Word…and we ought not be mean about proclaiming it…but we ought proclaim it (Matthew 28).

  • fishon

    nakedpastor
    July 21, 2011 | 10:05 pm
    the meanness comes in when we feel we can say nasty things and not take ownership
    ——–Well now, David, I take full ownership of what I say and believe. Do you take full ownership of your z theory? Did you come up with the z theory all on your own, or did you build your theory on the backs of other authorities? I seem to remember you quoting different people in sharing some of your beliefs and opinions. But I don’t question your ownership of the z theory, though their words and thoughts helped you form your belief system. That doesn’t seem much different than me having the Bible form some of my believes, opinions, and thoughts. None of us come to our beliefs, opinions, or thoughts void of some authority influencing us. Not even you, Nakepastor, not even you.

  • fishon

    Brigitte
    July 21, 2011 | 9:42 pm

    2. If we are talking about fishon pronouncing Ghandi in hell, the other day, I was going to chastise him because it is not any or our jobs to “send” anyone to hell.
    ____But Brigitte, I did not pronounce Ghandi in hell. The Bible does that. And I can not, nor do I wish to send anyone to hell. No, that is not true. There are some vile child abusers I hope go to hell. I may be a pastor, but I do have human feelings. And no use denying it. I’d pull the switch on many of them. So with that, maybe you should throw me to the lions. I’m not squeaky clean.

  • Mary Ellen Mayo

    I and my fellow church members, whom the all knowing fishon and steve martin would certainly disapprove of, got a taste of that meanness this past weekend when our church was picketed by “Operation Save America”, which has ties to domestic terror. They came even into the sanctuary, but our city has an ordinance that makes it a criminal offense to disrupt a church service. That and an undercover cop kept them silent in church, so that we rattled members and our minister could have some semblance of a church service. People who think like them have a bad habit of coming around and totally disrespecting any boundaries except their own, and emotionally and spiritually bludgeoning folks to within an inch of their lives. They will not allow anybody to go off to a page like this one for refuge, but will follow even here, and pour salt into gaping wounds and cause even more pain. One is not allowed to have one’s space to heal or just breathe unless it measures up to some arguing fundamentalist’s exacting standard. If this hadn’t been such a good and timely drawing, illustrating what I and my friends have just experienced I would have just passed on commenting. I have to ask: if all you are here for is to tell everyone how wrong they are, and how right you are, then why are you here? Seriously, fishon and steve martin have no idea what pain triggers they are pounding the crap out of every time they pontificate on this website every time they come to whip the rest of us with their standards, and I for one am tired of their bullying. Because of these people, the church I now attend is all the church I can emotionally handle. Not that the mean people give a damn. I forgive them, yes, but I’m nowhere near ready to play nice with them and I may never be.

  • Wretch like me.

  • Ouch, painful story there Mary Ellen Mayo. I don’t know what you refer to when you say fishon and Steve would disapprove but I pray you get the space for that refuge you need.

    Unfortunately I am watching a event, in some ways comparable, unfold in a main denominations over here in Scotland. Whether one believes that the principle behind it is right or wrong, people are having their sanctuaries invaded by being forced to accept ministers they see as celebrating sin. This coercion is done in the name of tolerance (and against bigotry), but ignores the need for a place of sanctuary for those who disagree.

    fison has a fair observation of the ‘sacred cows’ of those who preach tolerance. One of the constant messages on nakedpastor is to question everything. How can we agree with that if we don’t allow the questioning of how our tolerance is played out. All too often tolerance only extends to that which we personally find easily tolerable. It is easy because it doesn’t touch on our sacred cows.

    Surely fishon and Steve are our brothers in Christ. The term ‘brothers’ should indicate a warmth of relationship regardless of divergent views. It is the ‘in Christ’ which connects us, and that is an important, even defining, connection.

    That being said: Steve, I don’t think that the authority of God is in question here. I personally have a problem with the ‘Golden Vellum’ worship of the bible as it is played out in many evangelical churches, but the authority of God which the scriptures reveal remains respected.

    I think the point David makes is elegantly demonstrated in fison’s twin posts of July 22 12:48 and 12:53. In the first it is said

    ‘I take full ownership of what I say and believe.’

    and the second begins

    ‘I did not pronounce Ghandi in hell. The Bible does that.’

    Isn’t the second statement an example of what David was getting at when he said

    …we feel we can say nasty things and not take ownership because we really do believe the external authority says it and we’re just repeating it. we shift the responsibility from ourselves to an external authority like the institution or its text.

    We know fison isn’t doing that because of the first statement where fison takes full ownership of what he says, and the bible doesn’t specifically name Gandhi as being in hell (although the text would be interpreted by many thoughtful readers as saying he is) but, taken as a separate statement, the second post reads as ‘don’t blame me, it’s the bible’s fault. I have nothing to do with it.’

    It is right to quote the great and the eloquent in support of your statements. That is not an issue. Jesus quoted the scriptures himself (even though he is The Word). It is, IMO, the abdication of the responsibility for one’s statements which is being denounced as leading to ‘a mean-spirited, loveless and graceless edict’.

  • Mary Ellen,

    I preach Christ crucified for sinners.

    That hurts people?

    That’s odd. I always thought that was the antidote.

    I have said here many times before, I judge no one. I don’t go to other people’s churches. I don’t aim to be mean by promoting a God that requires NOTHING of us, other than Christ Himself.

    Maybe you can point out to me exactly where it is that I have been hurtful to people. If I have been, I will do my best to make ammends and to correct it.

    Thanks.

  • Mary Ellen, I empathize for whatever it is you are suffering. Life is really, really hard, and people are very hurtful, we could all go on and on about it. But we are all “playing hurt”. You and all the people you come across have sin and hurt and pain, caused by others or themselves or both at the same time. It is “normal”, very, very sad to say.

    Steve happens to be one of the kindest most helpful people around and he is also “playing hurt.” If he has said anything unkind you should point it out directly.

    About idiots coming around to your church, that is sad to say a part of “America” to me and its freedoms, or however this is justified. I would not be able to say anything in favor of those people. I also cannot see this happen in places where I’ve lived, Canada and Germany.

    About Ghandi, I hope very much that he will not be in hell. I know that he really admired Jesus Christ and loved his message, though he could not get over the class system of the English (slightly weird since Indians have also a class system at least as crass.)

  • Fishon, the thing is the Bible does not say anywhere: Ghandi will go to hell, or Pontius Pilate will go to hell, or the Emperor Augustus will go to hell, or Herod will go to hell. This is not the message. And it does not say: go tell Pontius Pilate that he will go to hell. Jesus did not even tell him that. He only cautioned him not to take himself too seriously because his authority comes from above not from himself as he claimed. It would have been wrong to leave Pilate to his self-deluded importance.

    Actually, I am amazed at the exchanges Jesus managed to carry on under the circumstances he was in. Note, also, that he told the one thief that he would be with him today in Paradise. He did not tell the other guy that today he will be in hell. Maybe the other guy heard Jesus say the promise to the other thief and took repentance and hope right there without saying or it being recorded. It’s possible. Anyhow, Jesus did not jump all over him. Jesus is grace impersonated, even under extreme pressure.

    There is a place to retain sin and not forgive it, but God will deal with it himself in his time. We are not going to take the word of condemnation out of his mouth. He will judge himself. Of course, we would love to judge, as much as Pilate liked being in authority.

    It’s not our place and the Bible will not say so how far you look. It does say there is a hell and you better worry about it and how you live your own life and keep your own heart. But it wants to keep you out of hell; it wants your heart glad and open toward your neighbor and your God, even in pain. And grace is what changes hearts.

  • fishon

    Mary Ellen Mayo
    —–You may not believe me, but I can only tell you that no one has the right to disturb you physically or picket you, publicly or privately in worship or anywhere else. To a certain degree our laws allow for that stuff, by biblically I consider it wrong.

    Mary, when was the last time you took on a group that disrupted a church service of people like me? Works both ways.

  • fishon

    Johnfom
    July 22, 2011 | 5:35 am

    Ouch, painful story there Mary Ellen Mayo. I don’t know what you refer to when you say fishon and Steve would disapprove but I pray you get the space for that refuge you need.
    ——john, she is talking about ‘lifestyle.’
    And by the way, I disapprove of what happened to her and her fellow church members.

  • fishon

    Johnfom
    July 22, 2011 | 5:35 am
    We know fison isn’t doing that because of the first statement where fison takes full ownership of what he says, and the bible doesn’t specifically name Gandhi as being in hell (although the text would be interpreted by many thoughtful readers as saying he is) but, taken as a separate statement, the second post reads as ‘don’t blame me, it’s the bible’s fault. I have nothing to do with it.’
    —-But John, my first statement to a degree cancels out the second. However, the second statement shows how I came to embrace my belief in the topic at hand. “don’t blame me, it’s the bible’s fault” never enters the equation for me. Like I said, the Bible is HOW I came to my belief. I fall on the sword of my own accord with no blame towards anyone or anything. I am totally responcible for my beliefs and opinions.

  • Dear David! Sola scriptura, quod erat demonstrandum. 🙂

  • fishon

    Brigitte
    July 22, 2011 | 12:03 pm

    Fishon, the thing is the Bible does not say anywhere: Ghandi will go to hell, or Pontius Pilate will go to hell, or the Emperor Augustus will go to hell, or Herod will go to hell. This is not the message.
    —You are correct, the Bible does not tell us specifically about those people. However, it does make clear what will send someone to hell. And it is on that that I base my opinion. Hey, if I were God there would be a lot of people whom I believe are in hell who I would not send there. But I ain’t God.

  • One of my most painful experiences is related to this, I had very severe depression last year and at a point in a particularly rough spot when I was all over the place due to medication side effects, I told a member of my church how awful I was feeling and she told me that I would be going to Hell as I no longer appreciated the gift of life, and then left me crying on my own. As it was someone whose opinion I trusted, I believed it for quite a while and it was quite a dangerous thing to tell someone who was already suicidal, to be honest. Going back to that church afterwards was the hardest thing I’ve done. People can be idiots. Fortunately – I’m now recovering, back on track and much more careful with who I trust within church environments, but it could have been quite different. Thank you as always, for starting a conversation that needs to happen, Pastor Hayward!

  • OMG Char48. Seriously? That person needs just a dose of wisdom. Just a mustard seed size. Jeepers. Thanks for sharing that story. Glad you are feeling better.

  • Fishon,

    Sorry if it appeared I was being sarcastic when I said that we could know that you weren’t passing the buck.

    The point I was trying to make was exactly what you said in response: That the first statement of personal responsibility makes the second statement different. I then moved on to what it would be like without that first statement.

    I was trying (perhaps clumsily) to say ‘this is how we know fishon isn’t abdicating responsibility’. Sorry that wasn’t clear.

  • fishon

    char48
    NP {David} and I don’t agree on much, but Amen to what he said.

  • fishon

    Johnfom
    July 22, 2011 | 3:46 pm
    —-Got ya, John. Might have been me mis-reading. I do that sometimes.

  • thanks guys – not sure it was her finest hour! And I have to say, that was the hardest piece of forgiveness I’ve encountered for quite a while – but I thank God that I’m through now, and like to think I’ve learned from the experience.

  • This whole thing of decoding the Bible to see what we need to think and believe is the problem. I was a believer for years and you can find an interpretation to support just about any position you want to take.

    As of last count, there are over 38,000 different versions of Christianity out there each claiming that everyone else has it wrong. To me it is obvious that it’s not all that clear what the Bible actually says, otherwise we wouldn’t have 38,000 different groups all claiming that they are the biblical one.

    To me it’s nonsense to try and take an iron age document to define life and ignore over 2000 years of philosophical discourse.

    Once you see what silliness this all is, no one can bang you over the head with it.

  • Patricia Hunt

    David said: “i’m also pointing at my tendency to say something believing that some external authority that i subscribe to legitimizes my position. we all can tend to do that. even religious people. the meanness comes in when we feel we can say nasty things and not take ownership because we really do believe the external authority says it and we’re just repeating it. we shift the responsibility from ourselves to an external authority like the institution or its text.”


    From Patricia:
    amen. I am always struck at the meanness found among fundamentalists. They justify hurting others with the words of God, not comprehending we are called to communicate in the spirit of love.
    Shifting responsibility off ourselves — for what we ourselves spoke or did — to some external other, is scapegoating. It is one of the highest mark of evil human nature at work, in my experience — not owning our own words and deeds.