When somebody tells you they are misunderstood and having a hard time, do you show them a little kindness, sit down with a cup of tea and listen to them? Or do you list all their faults, insult their family and friends, yell and tell them to shut up?
When Christians say they are misunderstood and unfairly portrayed in public discourse, the most common atheist response is option (b): insulting and yelling. Most of the problem lies in simple ignorance; many people’s only knowledge of the Church comes from sensationalist media reporting, or from broadcasts on Radio Rhema which have a peculiar Conservative American flavour. Those critiquing “Christianity” often fail to grasp that with 2 billion adherents, there is more to Christianity than Catholics and Evangelicals; it’s a vast historical movement with countless different subcultures, people groups, and practices.
In blogs and opinion pages, religious people are routinely and unfairly castigated for crusades, inquisitions, or sexual assaults — as if they are personally responsible. However those casting aspersions conveniently forget that empire building and exploitation by ambitious and violent men has always been the greatest cause of human suffering. From pyramids to ziggurats, chariots to tanks, arrows to atom bombs, human history is written in blood, so it’s an audacious falsehood to pin all these human actions on God.
The Reformation and the Enlightenment were supposed to have ushered in a new era of democracy and emancipation — freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of belief. However in universities, rugby clubs or workplaces, “spirituality” may be tolerated, but sincere religion is seen as quaint or dangerous.
Martin Luther King and Gandhi both drew upon the profound spiritual traditions of religion. It was the influence of the Quakers in 18th century Britain and the thunderous activism of Evangelicals in 19th century America that powered the abolitionist movement and led to the end of slavery.
For me faith is a very personal and difficult journey. I would find myself agreeing with many of the disbeliever’s doubts, concerns and critiques of the present form and practice of Christianity. However if a person actually wants to engage on a serious level I would share my experiences of God’s grace helping me through many dark days and turning on a light in my mind and heart.
Religious people have a human right to free speech, and the deep philosophical perspective of religion easily triumphs over the childish hostility of people who cannot abide a subculture that runs counter to their fickle self-absorbed consumer lifestyle.
This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
M and M: Freedom, Science and Christianity: A Response to James Valliant
M and M: Freedom, Science and Christianity: A Response to James Valliant Part II
Werewolf.co.nz: The Jesus Cringe
NZ Conservative: Christians are EVIL!!!