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)