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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ridiculing Christians for Fun and Profit

So what did I do to you?
by Tom King (c) 2011

An Open Letter to My Non-Believer Friends:

I've never quite understood why non-Christians feel the need to ridicule Christians with such vehemence. I suppose if you have been abused by a Christian in the name of his religion, then okay. I understand your anger a little bit.  If your excuse is simply that Christians are stupid and you find that offensive, then you're no better than those who ridicule people with Down's Syndrome or the disabled. I don't get it. As a believer, I've never seen the need to write posts that ridicule atheists. I might disagree with you, argue politely with you, but in the end you guys have every right to believe what you want to believe.  I kind of wonder how secure some of you are in that belief system, when you seem to need to attack the beliefs of others to reaffirm your own.

I examined atheism, agnosticism, Eastern mysticism and a wide range of belief systems and philosophies before coming to my conviction that Christianity made sense. Did you do the same or is yours an emotional conviction? I'm not being snarky here. You really seem to have some deep seated anger at Christians. You can't have known many genuine ones.

Like any belief system, there are those who are principled followers and those who are phonys. Take environmentalists, for instance. There are those who truly believe we should care for the planet we live on (I count myself as one) and those who make a tidy profit by spouting the rhetoric because they can make money doing it. The same thing happens with Christianity. There's a long history of politicians and entitled "nobles" using Christianity for their own purposes. This doesn't make the Christian belief system evil any more than the fundamental principles of environmentalism are evil because corporations manipulate fears of global warming in order to corner markets on those twirly glourescent light bulbs.

I worked for a tiger refuge that was seeking to use modern genetic science to recover lost species of tiger. It was a wonderful idea, bringing back extinct species whose genetic traits are still left in hybrids found in zoos and private collections. Some people called them junk tigers and were very critical of the refuge for even thinking about such a thing. When I looked into what was going on, I discovered that it was pretty much all about who would get the big foundation and government grants. The ideological purity, in the end, was about funding the different faction's projects.

Are there people who simply care about preserving the tigers? Yes. Are there others exploiting the conflict for profit. You bet. All human beings choose whether to live by their principles or to serve their own needs. I've worked in nonprofits, educational institutions and as a community organizer for more than 30 years. I'm a conservative (some of my liberal colleagues think I should spontaneously combust). I've started 5 nonprofit organizations (and they don't call them that for nothing). I've worked hard to help change unfair government practices so that old people, people with disabilities and low income families in my community have better access to transportation so they can better support themselves. I've pulled together coalitions of people from all sorts of philosophical backgrounds. I was proud to be a part of that.

I've never seen ridicule of someone else's beliefs do any good for a community, state or nation. I do have frank and open discussions with people from all sorts of philosophical backgrounds. We learn from each other that way. Most of all we learn to respect each other. My own belief is that every man has a God-shaped hole in them and that wherever we start from we're all looking to find that missing part of us. Your journey is different from mine.

Your criticism of Christianity has some merit. Like all philosophies, it can have people and institutions who claim to be honest adherants, but use believers for their own purposes. Don't confuse politicians with believers.

Christians truly do believe we should treat others the way we want to be treated. That one powerful philosophy has changed the world in profound ways. Over time that belief system has overcome the old ways. We've gone from the idea that strength is right to the idea that strength should serve the right. In many ways, our current culture, which embraces the idea that we should help and defend the poor and downtrodden, is a direct result of centuries of teaching out children the golden rule. Ironically, this sea change in culture, fueled by fundamental Christian beliefs about "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you" is the reason you folk of the atheist persuasion have the right to NOT believe in God and to vocally promote that belief without fearing for your life. Christians, in large part, gave that freedom to you. There are some folks out there who get a little self-righteous and do the same type of thing you just did in this article and belittle folks who don't share their beliefs. They are wrong to do so.

I hope you'll reconsider your attitude toward Christianity as a whole. We're pretty nice people whether you share our beliefs or not. We really do believe in the golden Rule. Diversity has to work both ways. If there is a place for non-Christian philosophies, then there must also be a place for Christians, whether or not we're the majority opinion. You can believe we're all naieve and stupid and wasting our lives on a false idea, if you want. You have that right. We can, in exactly the same way, believe that there are people who will not go to heaven because they choose not to and are wasting their lives on false beliefs. It cuts both ways. At the very least we can agree to disagree and respect each other's right to do so. It certainly doesn't hurt me for you to believe what you believe and it doesn't hurt you for me to believe in God.

So, how about we put down the poison pens, okay? That goes for you who call yourself Christians too!

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King

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