Thursday, March 15, 2007

Why Do I Hate Christians?

Is that title risible enough? I hope so. Anyway, the origin of this post was that after posting the stuff about, er, y'know, raping Jesus and attacking the idea of liberal Christians several people told me they were uncomfortable with how I thought about Christians.

I don't hate Christians, though many might think I do, even after I explain why my problems are far more with Christianity. However, I understand and accept that when a person attacks a religion they are attacking one of the absolutely core beliefs of a large group of people. You can't attack Christianity (or any living religion) without attacking a lot of people. Still, to me the distinction is important: I don't hate Christians, my problem is with Christianity in general and those specific individuals that do a lot of horrible things in the name of Christianity. That said, I don't think that the damage done by attacking Christianity (in the sense that Christians will be hurt) is sufficient to deter me from doing it. I feel that Christianity needs to be attacked.

And by attacked, I don't mean that Christians should be attacked physically or even verbally for being Christian. I think that the ideas that support and buttress Christianity need to be attacked, such as the idea that Jesus was the “Son of God” or rose from the dead, or that Christianity provides a solid ground for a moral code.

(I also think that the separation of church and state we have in the US doesn't go nearly far enough. I think it is time to move beyond the establishment of one religion over another being forbidden to the idea that, truly, no religions at all should be established. And by this I mean removing the special rights that religions – all religions – possess. I do not think that religious people should have rights to confidentiality for their parishioners. I don't think that churches should be tax exempt. I think that these sorts of laws establish not a specific religion but religion, generally, by making it easier for religions to exist.)

Still, is Christianity so bad that it needs to be attacked? My answer is, “Yes.”

Right now, in the United States, it is clear that fundamentalist Christianity is the most politically powerful form of Christianity. That would be bad enough in any country. But the damage that fundamentalism can do is magnified by the power of the United States. The US is the “sole remaining superpower”. The authority the US wields, globally, is immense. Fundamentalist Christians can, and certainly do, manipulate the power of the US to enact a global agenda that suits their ends.

For instance, virtually every country in the world believes that the US should stop supporting Israel's conquest of Gaza and the West Bank. One of the key components of continued support of the policy of supporting Israel with three billion dollars of military assistance every year is fundamentalist Christians. They see the existence of Israel as one of the necessary preconditions of their eschatology – meaning that the Second Coming and the end of the world can't happen unless the Jews possess Israel, which is traditionally seen as incorporating Gaza and the West Bank. To at least some extent, US foreign policy is being shaped by the beliefs of fundamentalist Christians and effecting millions of people in Palestine.

Likewise, it is now forbidden for the US to give aid to organizations that provide abortions. While liberal forces in the US are unlikely to allow abortion to be criminalized at home, they aren't willing to fight hard enough to prevent foreign aid being so restricted. Again, international policy is being set to fit fundamentalist priorities.

The forces of fundamentalism in the United States have, through their insinuation into American government, a truly global reach.

Additionally, I don't see or feel, really, Christian attempts to stop fundamentalism from being the dominate political force in America. I can go to the NY Times best-seller lists and find five books, right now, that are attacks on various sorts of religious fundamentalism written by atheists. I can find no attacks on Christian religious fundamentalism written by Christians on that same list. It is trivially easy to find fundamentalist attacks on just about anything done by liberals, leftists or atheists – including attempts to end abortion choices, stop the teaching of evolution in schools, all manner of warmongering, homophobia, sexism, racism, classism by conservative forces. You just have to turn on Fox News or the Christian Broadcasting Channel. Where is the liberal Christian response to this? Scant to the point of being invisible.

Christian religions in other countries also don't seem to be doing very much to stop American fundamentalism. This strikes me as huge cop out. I understand that most religions are pretty local – that truly international denominations are pretty rare. On what grounds would, say, the Danish Lutheran Church condemn the Southern Baptist Convention? I would say “morality”. But, like with liberal Christians in American, if they are challenging US fundamentalists they aren't making a very big noise about it. (This is ironic to me because Christians have little problem telling liberal and moderate Muslims in Western nations that they are morally obligated to control Islam's fundamentalist sects in Middle Eastern countries.)

So, what does a person do? They see a problem – Christian fundamentalism – and they see that Christians aren't doing anything about it. They believe that something, in fact, does need to be done about it. What do they do?

Different people, of course, would do different things. The thing I'm doing, of course, is writing a book about Jesus, Simon Peter and the formation of Christianity and writing on my blog about it. I'm also fixing to try to get speaking gigs on the subject.

Still, this isn't driven by a hatred of Christians, but a deep distrust of Christianity – and the fundamentalists that are trying to wreck the world and the moderates and liberals who aren't doing jack shit about it.

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divabeq said...

I just wanted to say that despite the fact that you seem to get far fewer comments to your longer, more "academic" posts (not that I think they're specifically academic, but I was searching for a word, there. I didn't want to say pedagogical because I think it implies a derrogatory), but that they are my favorites.

Sometimes I think one of the failings of atheism is the lack of, er, apologetics for Atheists that are accessible to people who cannot, necessarily, access an advanced education in the matter. I can't say for sure, but it *seems* like most of the prominent atheists I see speaking (or writing) on the subject are very educated, and many of them are fairly defensive, or, I dunno (ouch) elitist about their education, which makes it difficult for someone like me to get in on the club, so to speak.

Religions, on the other hand, make themselves very easy to understand and participate in by the masses.

I mean, checked out that other blog - the one by the guy who seems pretty angry at you (Centurion) - and one of the things he says is how you probably have a college education. I was particularly struck with him using this, seemingly, as a derisive. An education is a *good* thing, after all. Calling someone educated is praise. But, it also occurs to me that there is similar dismissal (see: the Buddhism guy on the other blog) of people who are less educated than you amongst many atheists. An attitude that if you haven't been as densely educated as them, you don't have a right to join the discussion. It keeps me (and presumably people like me) from joining into 'the movement'

I think this attitude, keeping atheism from a real popular appeal, is at least as damaging to atheism and humanism et. al. as the cognitive dissonance with biblical literalism is to religion.

March 16, 2007 10:33 AM  
divabeq said...

Ha. I meant to post this under the Messiah on Messiah combat post!

March 16, 2007 10:37 AM  
Chris Bradley said...


I'm going to write a post about what you just wrote, hehe.

March 16, 2007 11:02 AM  
divabeq said...

In defense of atheists: I do understand, somewhat, the lack of openness. It's not as if there is given much space for atheists to say their message without being attacked by the religious. There is not. To my recollection, any time atheists want to speak about their beliefs, there are religious people lining up to debate the subject with them. I've never known atheists to go to churches to "debate" sermons.

So I *do* understand the defensiveness.

March 16, 2007 11:42 AM  
Secret Rapture said...

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March 16, 2007 11:51 AM  

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