Being Dumb Is Bad; Being Mean Is Worse

Being Dumb Is Bad; Being Mean Is Worse January 9, 2013

2012 may have been the year of websites and Facebook pages that make Christians look stupid. Well, to be honest, Christians make themselves look stupid plenty — and it seems the more conservative or Pentecostal, the more likely they’ve posted stupid stuff on YouTube or elsewhere that other Christians and non-Christians then post to show how stupid those other Christians are.

I’m not immune. One of my biggest posts of 2012 was pointing out The Worst Church Website in the World. That drove some serious traffic my way.

But I, for one, am growing tired. Unintentionally sexual church signs are no longer humorous to me, and posting old videos of Bob Larson and new videos by William Tapley don’t make me cringe anymore. They’re just dumb.

And with 2.2 billion Christians in the world, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there are a few dumb ones.

Of course, some of these bloggers and Facebookers consider themselves “watchdogs.” They’re keeping Christianity honest by exposing abuse, misogyny, and other sins. Fair enough. If that’s your role in the Kingdom (or whatever euphemism you use), that’s fine. But what’s interesting is how these watchdogs are totally or partially anonymous. We know almost nothing about them — not where they live or whether they’re married or if they have children. I’ve reached out to several watchdogs who’ve come after me, with limited success (I did once speak at length to The One Who Will Not Be Named).

There are some that I’m not talking about. When Fred Clark calls out evangelical stupidity, he does it as a loyal evangelical. And it is always — always! — accompanied by smart, incisive commentary.

Darrell Dow posts stupid things that Independent Fundamental Baptists do at Stuff Fundies Like. In a recent interview, Darrell was asked what is the point of the satire on his site. He responded,

Imagine for a moment that you’re a child who every night as he lies in bed is terrorized by a terrible monster. One day you grow up. You leave home. You don’t talk about the monster because nobody else believes that it is real. Surely you only imagined it. Then one day you find a website where someone has taken pictures of that monster you used to fear and posted them adorned by funny mustaches. The monster used to scare you but now you can laugh at it. The laughter is therapeutic. The laughter conquers your fear. And then you find that there are hundreds of other people in the world who also were terrorized for years by this monster and others like it. Now they laugh at it too and you know that finally you’re not alone.

That’s what we do here. We don’t laugh at Christ. We don’t hate the church. We just laugh at the monsters.

I happen to know Darrell. I know he’s not mean. In fact, I know for a fact that I’m a lot more mean than he is.

But each of us who uses satire and humor to point out the stupidity of Christians is walking a fine line. Satire can very easily become mean; it can even, I submit, turn into hatred.

Maybe letting some of the stupidity in the church slide for fear of becoming mean ourselves wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

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