Appropriate Conduct for Christians

Twice in the last three weeks I’ve been witness to two different Christians in group settings openly ridiculing atheists and science. I’ve also in the past seen believers ridicule other believers of a different sort, a double standard by my book.

The first was at my favorite coffee shop, I was there early in the morning and a group of 12 or so men were having a Bible study. I was a little early for work so I decided to sit down for a bit and finish reading The Blind Watchmaker. I overheard one particular gentleman comparing any non-christian with dogs by saying that he expected  bad behavior from non-believers and other faiths because that’s just who they are just like he expected a dog to lick his behind. The same gentleman later said, “What takes more faith; believing that we crawled out of a swamp, or that god created us?” to much agreement from the group.

In this situation I patiently held my tongue, though I couldn’t help but shake my head in disgust.  I did later send an email to one of the participants that I happened to know, and last week I attended the study myself. Turns out these guys are really nice, were open to my discussion points on the parts of the Bible they were discussing, and welcomed me into the group very openly. I’ll continue attending. (I do intend to discuss their offenses eventually and write about this entire experience here on the blog.)

The second offense was from a guest pastor that held a moment of reflection at an event I volunteer for every couple months, a live music show that benefits my local arts guild. The pastors first words were a quote of Psalms 14:1, “The Fool hath said in his heart, there is no god”.  He continued to deliver a plea for salvation at a clearly secular event. I’ve yet to email this gentleman but I intend to explain that he need not pity this fool.

The point I’m trying to get to is that for some reason it’s ok to make fun of people and beliefs that aren’t your own in the Christian world and to even do so in a public setting, often with the assumption that those beliefs are so rare in your community that there won’t be anyone particularly offended by such things (and for those few that are, well – obviously they deserve it).

Were I to claim that I’ve never made a joke at the expense of Christians or the Christian faith I’d be a liar,  but I don’t attack people based on whether or not they follow any particular faith and I’m not prejudiced against those that believe (except Scientologist…everyone can pick on Scientology).  I am inclined and obligated to attack falsities promoted in the name of religion, in doing so I stand in opposition to a position or statement rather than against a person which allows the debate to fall into the realm of the intellectual and focus on the evidence – not the character of a person or group. There are a few exceptions to this rule of course; Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Fred Phelps, and anyone that has such glaring character flaws as these men should be questioned harshly by both Christians and non-believers.

 

Attacking people shouldn’t be normal, attacking positions should be. I want to see the Christian camp decide that it would rather participate in intelligent discussion and debate rather than playing to a crowd of people that agree with them while they insult a minority. I want Christians to embrace and encourage doubt and questioning rather than ensuring that believers are too afraid of hell to ask questions.

I want to see the New Atheists avoid gross generalizations against people that believe and to recognize that (I hope)most are good, kind, loving, and even intelligent people who don’t allow their faith or holy book to keep them from goodness. Let’s keep the discussion on the points, that’s where we win. I’ve not been perfect in any of these things, I intend to try to be in the future.

It’s not OK to call someone a fool because they don’t accept your faith even if the Bible says so. It’s not OK to ridicule a science you don’t understand even if the Bible says so. It’s not OK to call someone a dog (or swine) because they don’t share your faith even if the Bible says so. What is appropriate conduct is presenting your faith honestly, being prepared to answer critique, and giving those that disagree the opportunity to object and discuss the problems they find.

I’ll do my part. Will you?

Question. Everything.

 

  • It is so disappointing to come across this behaviour from fellow Christians. Sadly, especially among some groups, it is common.

  • So you have a list of "¢hri$tian leader$" that promote hatred through ad hominems, but no leaders of the atheist community?

    "He moved up the hierarchy of American universities, from rock bottom at the ‘Moody Bible Institute’, through Wheaton College (a little bit higher on the scale, but still the alma mater of Billy Graham) to Princeton in the world-beating class at the top." (- Richard Dawkins p. 95 The God Delusion)

    Your call to fellow atheists to refrain from poor behavior seems like more of an aside then it does an equal call to all for a dignified discussion. I would have liked to have seen an equal zeal for ALL humanity to "wake up", and set aside ALL of humanities foolishness.

    Whether theist or non-theist, methinks we all share a common bond as members of the human race. Are there any humans being irregardless of who they are, or what they believe, that should be heeding the plea of the guidestones? What about the media feeding on the controversy? Does the media have a responsibility to the human race? What about big business? Is God Money's biggest worshipers (oil, tobacco, alcohol, sugar, mining, chemical producers, plastic producers, etc…) shirking their responsibility to their fellow man? Can you take Romans 3:23, and apply it to ALL mankind by simply rewording it… For all are human, and fall short in their responsibility to one another"…

    You seem to have fallen a bit off track with this post, and have slid back a bit. 😉

    • Guy,Don't get me wrong, I've told you I thought Dick acted like a real Dick sometimes – but he's never said that hurricanes were caused by a plague of homosexuality or that earthquakes were a warning to DC to straighten up…I think we are talking about very different offenses.Christianity and religion are still societal ills, I'm trying to diminish their Ill effects by encouraging some semblance of open mindedness in the Church, and increase the likelihood of dialogue.

  • Mike aka MonolithTMA

    Certainly it would be nice if both sides (I hate that there are even sides) could always treat each other with kindness and respect, and I've observed horribly viscous behavior from atheists and Christians alike, but the contrast of Christians talking about love and then turning around and doing the opposite is just too hard to ignore sometimes.

    • I’m as guilty as anyone about being unkind…. Leaving the faith resulted in a lot of anger that I’m glad to finally be over. I’d like to make amends where possible and move forward, continuing an important discussion.

      • Mike aka MonolithTMA

        Fortunately I didn't go through the anger phase, though individuals since have made me angry.

  • One of the reasons I stopped writing about and debating religion so much is I found myself just getting too angry. Anger is pointless. It quickly ends any rational discussion on either side. It's the same with politics lately. The lack of facts presented in arguments, the emotionally charged propaganda.. just ends all rationality. And at a time when these things are affecting our lives so greatly it's hard to not get angry.

  • Agree
    Christians may be nice to your face, but many, behind your back are saying horrible things about our lack of morality, our future damnation and how sad it is that we are raising our children the way we do.
    You will have your polite coffee shop talks but they always go home to talk with the tribe.