/*amazon_ad_exclude = "christian"*/ The Skin I Am In: A Slimy Can Of Worms

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Slimy Can Of Worms

I recently opened a can of worms on the blogcatalog discussion forum. I was interested in getting opinions and insight on a topic that is personal to me, but controversial. Being agnostic myself, and knowing how highly religious convictions are regarded, I was curious to know how most people felt about morality as it relates to a non-Christian, or even more specifically, a non-believer. However, the discussion was led astray, partially for two reasons. For one, my poor wording in the opening remark led to misinterpretations, and many who didn't read my post on the subject seemed to misconstrue that my question, “are Christians morally superior to non-Christians?” was a statement rather than an inquiry into how they felt (which contradicts everything I stand for). The second element contributing to it's demise as a calm and rational conversation, is the fact that many people do not like to be challenged on topics as personal and deeply rooted as faith.

I can empathize with that position. I have personally witnessed a lot of bias originating from Christians, which deeply frustrates me, hence the basis to pose the question in the first place. One member of the forum challenged my purpose for singling out Christianity, stating she was sensitive to the bias against Christians. I refer to Christianity because it is the only religion I have these experiences with. I was born in the United States, where if you are a natural born citizen to parents who were natural born citizens, the chances are very high that the only religion you got exposed to was... Christianity! There was no malice in my intent; Christianity is simply the most influential religion in the culture and society I personally live in. Over the last two decades, Christians have comprised as much as a whopping 86% of the American population*. For crying out loud, if individuals of the vast majority are sensitive to bias, they ought imagine what it's like for the divided 14% that are not Christian!

The Christian mindset influences our society more than Christians, themselves, apparently realize. I think this is because when something is a natural part of our lives, all references to it seem inherent. However, when you are a minority, you are much more aware of, and negatively impacted by, the common attitudes of society at large since their attitudes often reflect a philosophy that does not support or tolerate your individuality. Often it is disseminated that without claiming Jesus as our savior, we are nothing more than lost souls on a futile journey. Here is a classic example of Christian bias and propaganda: I used to receive an abundance of evangelistic emails, many of which were downright offensive! One, in particular, introduces the names of many people (one being John Lennon, along with a myriad of others, some famous, some not) who had used the Lord's name in vain or disputed the Christian message in some form or fashion. It first details each of their transgressions against God, then distinctly points out that these sins are what led to their demise. These villainous creatures were all punished with untimely deaths, in essence getting what they deserved. One of the examples was a teenage girl who allegedly sassed her mother as she was leaving her home, then moments later tragically died in a car accident. Whether or not this even happened is irrelevant; in this email, Christians are circulating the message that a young girl's death was a justifiable act of God! This, my fellow citizens, is contemptible decorum. Anyone who forwards such propaganda in the name of religion, ought not do it indiscriminately, and had better understand the message they proliferate!

The doctrines conveyed aren't always this blatant. It is often much more insidious. Answer this: If many Christians do not consider themselves to have a higher moral standard, then why has the “good Christian” adjective become a cliché? “She's a good Christian girl,” or, “he's a good Christian man,” or my favorite, “we're a good Christian family,” which, yes! I hear these often. It's as if the two words are entwined and that a person can not be one without the other! These expressions instill subconscious messages that, when heard repeatedly, internalize the belief, therefore continuing the cycle of inaccurate presumptions.

It simply boils down to having respect for one another. It goes both ways; you have to give respect to get respect. Each of us holding a certain faith or belief system, does so for a personal reason. I whole-heartedly respect others' right to practice whichever faith, if any, they choose; after all, most of my family and friends are Christians.

In my personal endeavor, I am getting closer to the place which allows me personal freedom to not worry about others' perceptions of my values. As long as I am comfortable with the skin I am in, they can take it or leave it.

*latest stats are 77% (source: http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_prac2.htm)


Unfettered said...

I share your pain. On BC in particular, the person who has taken you to task regularly preaches to the rest of how on how we should behave, what our decorum should be, then seems to take great pleasure in deconstructing the beliefs of others, or getting nasty with people. I find her completely odious. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I don't even find her worth any response.

The title of your post was unfortunate, but I thought you explained yourself very well, and it must have taken a lot of very purposeful misunderstanding to continue painting you into the corner, as it were.

Don't let it bother you. That's simply what happens on BC.

This post was brilliant, by the way. I've seen the exact same biases, and it's very obvious to meet you neither dislike Christianity or Christians, but were merely speaking your experiences.

Travis Morgan said...

Don't worry about it. There seems to always be someone that has to throw out the "my feelings are hurt" card in attempt to misdirect the topic.

Libertine said...

I've seen an uprise of the victim mentality in fundamentalist Christians. After decades of people saying "Happy Holiday" and "Season's Greetings", some Christians have all of sudden decided that this is evidence of a "war on Christmas", and Christians in particular.

The sad truth is that you can't have a rational discussion with some people about things in our society that are considered to be sacred cows, and Christianity falls under that description. People react with emotion rather than logic -- indeed, fundamentalists teach their adherents to mistrust their reasoning and to rely on "faith" instead. Scary, huh?

It's like my father always said; you simply can't deal with willful ignorance. Trying to debate a closed mind is like trying to argue with a stop sign.

Travis Morgan said...

Well said libertine.

artsfish said...

In all honesty I don't think it would of mattered HOW you phrase it- if you use the words "Christian" and "morality" in the same phrase followed by a question mark, Vesuvius will erupt.

As an an optimistic agnostic follower of Buddhist philosophy who escaped a childhood of catholicism, I always find the eruption intriguing :-)

Garg the Unzola said...

You are a brave person for 'coming out'.
I don't know if you have read the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins? I got it for Christmas. Oh, the irony. Great read though.

The Necro Files

Anok said...

Ah, wonderful post - I'm glad that critical thought came out of the "thread that won't seem to die" LOL.

I agree wit you and although I bowed out for the most part, I think it is ironic, amazing, and flabbergasting that a religious group with such vast numbers...and power....feel the need to pull the discrimination card when the religion itself has been questioned. As I stated on another thread, I have seen it time and time again.

Do you know that because I am Pagan, I have had insults of varying matures hurled at me by Christians, and only Christians? No other religion. I have been told I would burn in Hell (which is silly because I don't believe in Hell, but still offensive because the intention of the remark is clear - translated into my religion, thats like telling me I'm going to reincarnate into a pedophile, or cockroach turd.)

I have even been compared to a Nazi for my beliefs. (seriously)

Oh well, I had stopped debating about religion, a passionate past time of mine, for the very reason you saw on the board. It gets way too personal.

Descartes said...

The discussions on blogcatalog tend to wander from their sources.
For a social network with a ton of users, the Usual Suspects seem to populate all of the discussions.
Your post was very good and I look forward to reading what you have to say next.

Peter said...

Hi! Discussing religion and politics is an occupation fraught with danger. The question may appear poorly worded to you but in the end it did apparently bring about discussion on the matter. Better than none at all, I suppose.

The problems with Christianity are many. People now seek alternative faiths that they believe will give them more purpose and direction in life.

Many look to other faiths in the hope they will get something more of it compared to former faiths.

But having said that, perhaps the teachings of Christianity are not the problem at all.

It may be the case, where we should be blaming the users of the faith rather than the faith itself.

This goes for any faith that we hold dear.

Thank you for your frank discussion on this timely matter.


The Blogger Exposed said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks so much for your comment.

I think that in many ways you are right, in that much of the problem lies with the users of the faith. The Catholic priests haven't exactly given Christianity a good name, as of late. Many 'practicers' of the faith tend to manipulate whichever messages they need to in order to justify their conduct. That tendency, is of course, a complete abuse of the establishment. However, my personal discord with Christianity has to do with it's fundamental message, being that anyone desiring redemption must accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. It implies that one's moral grounding, or quest in life, no matter how generous and benevolent, is irrelevant otherwise. Likewise, one may commit mortal sins against mankind, yet as long as he/she repents and worships Jesus Christ, they will be granted eternal life. I hope not to offend you if you are a Christian, but I find that concept to be preposterous.

Some of the other issues you mentioned I am addressing in my next post.

Thanks again.

Jim Murdoch said...

As a subscriber to the mentioned post I noticed this morning, that at the request of Globalgirl (http://globallyminded.com/) the thread has been deleted. Its gone! All the discussion simply wiped out. I couldn't help think how this compares to what is going on in northern Turkey/Irak just now - we don't like them so lets delete them. OK an extreme comparison, but the root of intolerance is the same.

Apart from some mindless comments the discussion on the whole was I think very revealing. On the one hand it showed how many regard morality as an issue not related to religion or faith. While on the other hand we have the easily offended Christian who exudes not the love he/she is supposed to, and condemns the very act of questioning.

I know, I was one!

The Christian view, from the Christian viewpoint, is one of honest openeness and acceptance. But in reality, once you get free from the bounds of theology and tradition, the christian faith (not just the practitioners) can be seen as leading to judgment, rejection and hate, all of which are strongly discouraged in the Bible.

I find it a shame that the BC Admin have so timidly responded to a singular request to limit our freedom of expression. How many other threads and posts fall under this same categorey ripe for deletion.

Thnak you for your openness and courage to raise such a subject.

Jim Murdoch

The Blogger Exposed said...

That is interesting. The only reason I can imagine her caring enough to have it removed is because she felt threatened that her position wasn't as strong as the others'. It's really a tattle-tale, cry baby scenario, so let her wallow in ignorance and denial.

I agree with what you've said and I read your post on the subject. I wish some of the other BC discussion Nazi's could read it also.

Thanks for your comment~