Today’s post is a continuation from Monday’s post, The Guy Who Never Cursed.
You know one when you see one. They claim to be moral authorities, but their actions prove otherwise.
Hypocrites are often spotted in certain places like behind the podium, or in the halls of justice or congress. They also tend to work in occupations like preaching, lawyering, or becoming your local congressperson.
Some people can never be hypocrites in the biblical sense. Take your average rock star, porn star, actor, or egomaniacal pop star. Nor do people such as circus clowns, postal workers, bank clerks, stewardesses or soldiers get labeled as hypocrites. Especially when they’re performing in the line of duty.
Children can never be hypocrites under any circumstances. To the contrary, almost every minister, preacher or churchgoer is in danger of being a hypocrite all the time.
These may seem like general assumptions, but you get my drift. Only pretentious goody two-shoes, who claim to be beacons of morality, can be hypocrites. Folks like rock icons or porn stars can’t be hypocrites because we know they aren’t trying to be perfect. Children, of course, are far too innocent to be hypocrites. And clowns are just goofy and only want to make you laugh.
So, why do religious people often get labeled as hypocrites? It’s because they set really high moral standards for themselves. Which is fine, but they expect others to abide by their standards too. Even worse, many of them preach that people who aren’t as good as themselves are going to hell. You can imagine how this situation can cause a lot of tension and animosity between people, particularly between believers and unbelievers. So, when a religious person fails at measuring up to their own standards of moral conduct—which happens often because they’re human—then they get labeled as a hypocrite.
Jesus had a lot to say about hypocrites:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness . . . You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel . . . You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside [you] are full of greed and self-indulgence . . . You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23: 23-28
Personally, I don’t like the label. It’s judgmental and sometimes unfair. Nevertheless, when hypocrites condemn people it’s highly offensive. Touché for Jesus for saying so.
Can atheists be hypocrites?
I suppose this depends on how good people expect atheists to be. Speaking as an atheist, I’m here to tell you that those expectations are zilch. Is there such a thing as a moral atheist? Are you kidding me? Surely you mean amoral. Doesn’t everybody know that people can’t be moral unless they serve a god?
So, based on this grievous misunderstanding; this stereotypical offense, the answer is no. Atheists are the scum of the earth. Rumor has it, atheists don’t even possess the moral standards of a prostitute or drug dealer. An atheist will probably never become the president of the U.S. In fact, to every self-described morally superior person, atheists are known by such derogatory terms as gentiles, heathens or infidels.
Which would suit me just fine if all this were true. But since it’s not true, then I’m okay with people expecting me to be morally bankrupt. Frankly, it’s tough trying to be an angel all the time!
Go on, take a walk on the wild side
If you are a believer who wonders what it might be like taking a walk on the wild side of life, here are two great reasons to consider.
- Most of what religious folk say is evil isn’t evil—it’s not even bad for you.
- Ditto what Henry David Thoreau said in my previous post. “Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life.”
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