Friday, September 14, 2007

Harm. Foul.

While internet wandering, I happened across two situations. At ”a Longmire Rambles” JD Longmire talked of being kicked off a Christian forum board for daring to offer a contrary opinion on the extremely controversial topic of solos in church.

In a completely unrelated note, at Moral Science Club Jim Jordan discussed how poorly Christians treated a former pastor who had an affair.

Both situations reminded me of how we view Christians treating each other so harshly. We have all heard the phrase, “The Christian Army is the only one that kills their own wounded.” As a Christian, it often stunned me how fellow Christians would not speak to each other, or would deliberately sit on opposite sides of the church, or would gossip and tear to shreds one another. Even then, I thought, “Come ON! We are supposed to be on the same side, here.”

As a heathen, I am treated in roughly the same manner. Some Christians display charity towards me, others….well… others do not. None of this should come as a surprise. Christianity is a group of people, and—like any other grouping of people, consists of good people, bad people, kind people, mean people and about every personality, make-up and disposition that can be imagined.

Even though it does not come as a surprise—it still is. It would appear that we, including both Christians and non-Christians, expect more from Christians. We expect them to be different. When a corporate CEO is discovered as having embezzled from the company, we sigh with the though of “yet another.” But if it is a Christian, or a Christian company, or a Christian in a church, our eyebrows go up just a bit higher, and we are surprised that a Christian (of all people) would do such a thing.

As I was listening to Dr. Mohler talk about the upcoming elections, on the radio, a caller stated that he would ONLY vote for a Christian. If I called in and stated I would ONLY vote for an atheist, I suspect that many theists would find this close-minded. Yet there is something more. There is a perception that Christians are good people, so not only am I close-minded, there is a hint that it is not wise to vote for a non-Christian. They are not…quite…trustworthy.

(And if you don’t believe that, who is the last Republican or Democrat candidate for President that declared they are not a Christian of some sort?)

I confess it is disconcerting that what is surprising in a Christian, is expected in me. If I undercut, or lie or cheat or steal—well…what can you do? Atheist, ya know.

I am not ready for that typecast, I guess…

(And, to be clear, neither J.D.Longmire nor Jim Jordan was giving the impression that somehow these incidents would be expected of atheists, but not from Christians.)

Why is it that we (who should know better) have bought the bill of goods that Christians are somehow “better” than non-Christians?


  1. Hi Dagoods,

    Where is your deconversion story? May I critique it, or would you be likely to get all angry and throw a hissy-fit like John Loftus did when I critiqued his? :-)

    I highly suspect you would not, based on my pleasant past experience in discussions with you, but it never hurts to ask. I didn't think he would get angry, either, based on his sublime, lofty rhetoric on good discourse, posted on his blog.

    Pretty soon I'll be critiquing some of your writings, and hoping for some more of that (all-too-rare) good dialogue.

    I'm getting bored with Protestants, and they don't seem too willing to defend their positions (at least not where I am concerned). I'm ready for some decent atheist-Christian discussion. I tend to go in streaks in these things. You know: "variety is the spice of life."

    There is something to be said for good old-fashioned flat-out disagreements talked about amiably. That's about as rare as ice on the sun anymore, sadly . . . but it's something that all open-minded thinkers of any stripe hold in common. Thus I can feel that affinity with you (as I would with, e.g., the ancient Greeks), despite disagreements on theism, etc.



  2. Dave Armstrong,

    I have never written out, nuts-to-bolts, my deconversion story. Partly because it is not that interesting, partly because I am far more interested in the arguments themselves, not necessarily the background of the person (hence my own background fades in importance), and partly because it seems so…well…narcissist, perhaps? Does the world really care as to the mechanics of yet another decovert?

    I am uncertain what there is to critique. I am on fairly safe ground to presume you think I did something wrong, because I ended up a non-theist, and you are a theist. Where is the surprise in that?

    But if you are truly THAT interested, I can put together something. It would help to know what you are looking to critique. Do you want me to start with being born in a logcabin I built with my own hands? Do you only want the point from “There is something rotten in Denmark” or where?


  3. Well DagoodS,
    More good stuff here. I have been treated far worse by Christians than atheists. Maybe it is because we place higher standards on believers than non-believers. We expect believers to first ask WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) before they do or say something right? Since you atheists have no morals it shouldn't matter to you.;)
    Maybe it is our desire to save everyone that we become more judgemental about people.
    At least now you know you when someone accuses you of lying you can say, in your best captain Jack voice, atheist!

  4. Yep, I'm highly interested indeed. Since I consider you one of the best, most reasonable atheist dialogue partners I have encountered, I'm very curious as to the actual process that led to your forsaking of Christianity. And of course I want to critique that (as you would expect, me being an apologist and all) and try to show that the reasons were inadequate.

    I know what you mean about the "narcissism", though. I feel somewhat the same about my conversion story to Catholicism. Though I've written it out in several different variations, I have turned down offers to give it on the EWTN TV show The Journey Home about five times. I would feel far too weird about it. I'm sure it would be great for more name exposure and book sales, but to me that is entirely beside the point.

    I, too, want the discussion to be about the arguments and ideas themselves, not about me. And that is what I am interested in the most in your deconversion story: the validity or invalidity of the arguments that brought about your change.

    Thanks for being willing to put something together for my sake.

  5. Do you want me to start with being born in a logcabin I built with my own hands? Do you only want the point from “There is something rotten in Denmark” or where?

    I'd like to see exactly what you believed -- broadly speaking -- as a Christian (what tradition), and then see exactly what caused you to lose confidence in that worldview and how that process worked.

    I think it would be good for you to sort out your own thoughts and opinions and give them a form that you can present to others. I know that always helps me when I am trying to clearly express something or other in my writing. You get it down on paper and then it is good for future reference and for "taking stock" of where you have been and where you are now.

  6. Another well-written article, dagoods. Our shallow culture forgets that in order to be a Christian you have to be bad. I didn't realize how bad I was until I became a Christian.

    However, it is a mystery as to why many Christians get worse after their confession of faith. Perhaps that's why Jesus said "You can say 'Lord, Lord' all you want to - I will say 'I don't know you - go away!'"

    My post pointed out the hypocrisy of those who say "Well, I never!" when the thought has certainly crossed their mind. The sad part is that we are called to pray for our enemies yet many don't even pray for their own.

  7. "Why is it that we (who should know better) have bought the bill of goods that Christians are somehow “better” than non-Christians?"

    Good question. The power of propaganda perhaps? Madison avenue would do well to take a few pages from the "Christian" playbook. People will buy practically anything at any price if it's packaged well. Then there is the repetition part of advertising. Christianity has been sold for a long, long time.