Why it is Hard to Be Around Christianity and Christians

no christianity

My friend Zoe wrote:

…Some in the secular world want to cooperate with moderates &/or liberal-minded theists.  I think it’s probably a noble thing to attempt.  The thing is, for me, and likely for many others it reminds me of playing skip at recess time with a bully.  The bully has chased you for years, kicked you in the gut and hoped you’d burn in hell, and will be waiting to do it to you all over again after school . . . but it’s okay to skip at recess time with the bully…

I am one of the people Zoe is talking about. I try to coöperate with liberal/progressive Christians, even though I think liberal/progressive Christianity is intellectually unsatisfying. I recognize that the world would be a lot better off if every Christian was a liberal or a progressive. Both Zoe and I agree that anything that causes the swift, rapid death of Evangelicalism is a good thing.

Evangelicalism, with its fundamentalist tendencies, is harmful emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and, at times, physically. I make no apology for thinking this. Yes, I know there are decent, kind, thoughtful Evangelicals, but, as Zoe would say, they still think non-Christians are going to hell. (and if they don’t, they really aren’t Evangelical) Any religion that believes that their God will some day torture people in hell for eternity is not a religion that is good for anyone. The sooner Evangelicalism dies, the better off we all will be. Harsh? Yep. And I mean to be.

When it comes to liberal/progressive Christianity, Zoe sees the image of Evangelicalism and this keeps her from wanting to have anything to do with liberal/progressive Christianity. They are Christians after all, they still believe the Bible contains, to some degree or the other,  the words of God. Is liberal/progressive Christianity just the nice brother of Evangelical Christianity?

When I talk to a liberal/progressive Christian, I want to know what they REALLY believe. Many liberal/progressive Christians are just atheists/agnostics/universalists that like to go to church on Sunday. They have jettisoned most of the beliefs that define Christianity, hanging on to some sort of generic, cosmic, social worker Jesus. Again, I don’t have a problem with this kind of liberal/progressive Christianity, but I find myself asking, why bother? Why play the charade, why pretend to be a Christian when you don’t believe anything Christians have historically believed?

There are also liberal/progressive Christians that use Evangelical methodology when they talk about their faith and interact with non-Christians.  I wonder if some of these people aren’t really Evangelicals who happen to like liturgical worship or want freedom from the social strictures of Evangelicalism? They still hang on to the belief that Bible is a supernatural book and that every sinner needs salvation.  The two key questions I ask someone who says they are a liberal/progressive Christian are:

  • Define sin, its effect, and its consequence
  • What happens to atheists and non-Christians when they die

While I may skip rope every so often with the playground bully, I totally understand where Zoe is coming from. I am often mentally and emotionally wore out from having to deal with Christianity and Christians everywhere I turn.  I live in an area that is predominantly white, Republican, and Evangelical, and I am constantly bombarded by beliefs and practices I don’t agree with. Unless I shut myself off from the outside world, there is no escaping it. Some days, I want to take the jump rope and wrap it around the neck of the playground bully and strangle him.

Now, before some Christian get all sanctimonious and self-righteous and tells me, hey we have a right to live in this country too, I want them to walk in the shoes of an atheist/agnostic for a few days. Christians who whine, gripe, moan, complain, and bitch about being persecuted are delusional. They are the majority in this country and have great privilege,  Try being an atheist for a while, you know Satan’s spawn, a molester of children, a moral deviant, a hater of God, a communist,  as Christians like to say about us. (and it is for this reason many atheists stay in the closet)

Atheists are expected to smile and live with whatever shit Christians dump at their doorstep. We are treated like the ugly, redheaded stepchild. We are routinely ostracized, and many Christians think they have the right to attack us, slander us,and lie about us. Evidently, the teachings of the Bible don’t apply when a Christian is interacting with an atheist.

When a person has to deal with this day in and day out, even from family members, they can reach the end of the jump rope Zoe mentioned in her post. Then there is no more trying to get along, no more trying to find common ground. Sometimes the wounds of our religious past run so deep that we can not bear to be around anything that is remotely religious. These things are a reminder of the abuse and damage that has deeply affected our lives. It’s like being in the same room with an ex-husband that used to beat the shit out of you. Not a good place to be.

Comments (15)

  1. NeverAgainV

    I just don’t see a whole lot of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you…” or the “love thine enemies” when I look at so many Christians. :(

    Reply
  2. ismellarat

    You might want to check out Charles Slagle’s piece, here:

    http://www.tentmaker.org/testimonials/CharlesSlagle.html

    Sure, he could have achieved his “miracle” just as easily by merely walking away, but he seems to be in a good place nonetheless, and I have no problem with his salvaging what he could.

    If we can take away the eternal, bestial torture, and explain away the wars and slaughters as the product of some whack jobs’ fevered imaginations, we’re left with love your neighbor, and some liturgy which I don’t have a problem with.

    I like Tolstoy’s words on this which someone here had pointed me to. I had already come to about the same point myself:

    https://www.createspace.com/3846726

    “I found myself in the position of a person who has been given a sack of stinking filth, and after a long hard struggle has found that there really are precious pearls in this sack of filth; he realizes that he is not himself to blame for his aversion to the stinking mud, and not only is he blameless, but also those people who had gathered and saved these pearls along with the mud are worthy of love and respect. But all the same, he doesn’t know what he should do with these jewels mixed in with the mud. Up to this time, I found myself in an agonizing position until I became convinced that the pearls hadn’t fused with the mud and could be cleaned up….”

    By what standard, apart from wishful thinking, he sorted out the pearls from the filth, I don’t yet know, but I think it still beats believing we’ll simply be dead and forgotten. “Pol Pot had the last laugh” doesn’t exactly make me enthusiastic for stamping out every trace of religion.

    Why bother? It seems to me it’s no different than publicly recognizing good that people do in this life, and deterring, punishing, and rehabilitating those who do evil, but believing that it will be taken to another level. The movie Ghost had a fairly good message to it. Sure, it can’t be proven, but so what? It can’t be said to not have motivated people in a good way.

    Religions seem as screwed up as they do because there isn’t such an easily understood justice to them, i.e., all too often, you have otherwise good people getting tortured in the afterlife and otherwise bad people being rewarded, because of seeming “technicalities,” because they got some or another definition wrong or right. Take away the pressure to get it all exactly right before you die, and much else just seems to fall into place.

    Reply
  3. Griff

    As an agnostic that regularly attends a mainline protestant church, I can answer the question of “Why play the charade, why pretend to be a Christian when you don’t believe anything Christians have historically believed?” It may not be applicable to a larger population, but it’s what works for me.
    1. Where I live (rural south) it is almost impossible to help a broad cross section of the population that needs help without the local church based organizations. My church doesn’t have any programs (that I am aware of or participate in) that use a litmus test for help or proselytize while helping, so that’s good enough for me.
    2. The church is also the primary social group for my family. It’s where plans are made, time is spent socializing and golf bets are settled (seriously.) At least for me, it is also a fun, safe environment to discuss the issues of the day with a group that spans the ideological array (but, as always in church, is still fairly monolithic in economic and racial makeup.)
    3. I enjoy the ritual. I enjoy the songs. I enjoy reading the Bible (but probably not for the same reason as most people there) and I enjoy the small group discussions, especially if they lead down the path to discussing separation of church and state and why it is good for non-believers AND believers, which they often do here.
    4. I own a business and in the rural south it is economic suicide to not be affiliated in some way with a church.
    I’m sure this makes me a hypocrite and a coward and I guess I’m OK with that.

    Reply
  4. jack

    “Jesus christ, what kind of christians have you been dealing with down there? lol…”

    -canadian christian

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Christians that never would start a sentence with Jesus Christ. :)

      It can be quite depressing some days.

      Reply
      1. Eldon

        That’s a goddamn shame, in my opinion. :)

        Anyways, your article has sparked a little conversation on my facebook page. Thanks for posting it. I think it really describes how I feel in my neck of the woods.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Glad I could help. :)

          Reply
          1. Eldon

            I think the discussion cost me a couple of friends, but I also think they might not have been that committed to stay my friend in the first place.

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Sorry to heat that Eldon. I have lost most of my Christian friends. Those who are left ignore what they disagree with me about. Our friendship transcends our particular beliefs.

  5. ... Zoe ~

    Bruce . . . I keep trying to be invisible in this great internet circus but I swear you’re trying to make me famous! :mrgreen:

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      When you come into your kingdom (and wealth) please remember me! :)

      Reply
  6. Justina

    “The two key questions I ask someone who says they are a liberal/progressive Christian are:

    Define sin, its effect, and its consequence
    What happens to atheists and non-Christians when they die”

    Exactly… many supposed liberal Christians aren’t really that liberal like they claim.

    Reply
    1. ismellarat

      “Define sin, its effect, and its consequence”

      To me, it seems like a hyped-up word which simply means you’ve hurt somebody and you will have to make restitution for it.

      Same as you should have to in this life, only this time, the justice will be based on a perfect knowledge of your motives. I would look forward to going to this kind of “hell,” one that would let me make up for anything I ever did to somebody else. And once you’re done, you’re done. No ridiculous, infinite tortures. It’s probably comparable to Purgatory, but don’t quote me on the details. There are many ways in which this might work:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purgatory

      “What happens to atheists and non-Christians when they die”

      If there is a god, and he finally becomes obvious, for whatever reason he’s not doing it now, they’ll simply change their opinions. I can’t see anyone being blamed for having guessed wrong about something nobody can see. Only for having *done* something to someone else, which they *can* see.

      Or, if we did miss something obvious, why should there be such draconian punishments for the equivalent of a brain fart?

      “many supposed liberal Christians aren’t really that liberal like they claim.”

      You mean people like me are too liberal to be considered Christians, or that I secretly believe you’re going to an eternal Auschwitz, after all? :)

      Another odd thing is that atheists have a lot in common with Christian Annihilationists. According to both groups, nonbelievers will simply cease to exist. I’m not sure what there is to get enthusiastic about. Either way, the world’s Pol Pots get to do whatever they like.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annihilationism

      Reply
  7. Alice

    I also wonder about the why bother part. I never grew up in church and never particularity liked going as a believer(at least I haven’t missed it I guess). I think the social and familial aspects are part of it.

    A Christian I know believes in conditional immortality NOT annihilation he was very quick to point out. Jesus gives eternal life, after death no Jesus no life- BUT not eternal torment.

    Reply
  8. Wendy

    What a great blog you have! …Speaking, you understand, as a 52-year old woman in California. I attend a Unitarian Universalist church, and I used to identify as agnostic. I’ve recently modified that, and now identify myself as spiritual-with-anti-Christian leanings. Christianity is a religion of violence, going back to Constantine if not before, and in my opinion, if liberal Christians were honest, they would deal with that head-on. Otherwise they are no better than those of us white people who ignore all the privilege we’ve been born into just because of the color of our skin.

    …Oh, as to your question about why a universalist would go to a Christian church: I don’t, but I have a good friend who’s beliefs have moved awfully close to universalism over the years. She worships Episcopal, and her religion is very important to her. I think it’s a heritage-thing. The myths and the religious language make her feel happy.

    Reply

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