In the past week, there’s been a firestorm on the internet over Christian terrorism and Christian death threats. I’ve written two articles on the subject, and both of them have been heavily commented — and heavily disputed. Many people agree with me when I say that Christians seem to be far more concerned with hate than love. There are literally hundreds of examples in the last decade of self-proclaimed Christians bombing clinics, shooting doctors, sending death threats, and most recently, arresting people just for being atheist.
There’s another group, though. Many Christians and even some atheists have chided me for failing to mention all the “good Christians” in the country. They have insisted that I’m painting with too broad a brush. It’s off-putting, I’m told, to many people when all I do is focus on the negative things being done by Christians. Everybody’s got a grandma, or a brother, or a dad who’s a great person, who never discriminates against anybody, and even has atheist friends. (And everytime a Christian insists that he’s got atheist friends, I’m reminded of when I was a kid living in rural Alabama and all the white folks said the same kind of thing about blacks. “No, really… I have black friends! I’m not a racist!”)
I am here today to remind these people — those who think I’m being unfair — of an adage that Christians have been using at least since I was in Vacation Bible school and wearing flared jeans. The first time they were popular.
They will know we are Christians by our Love.
Being loving is a set of actions, not beliefs, and many of the “Good Christians” in the country seem to have let this fact slip by. When we love someone, we will do anything we can to help them. When they are in trouble, we will rescue them. When they are sick, we try to heal them. When they are being oppressed and persecuted, we stand up for them and do all we can to stop it.
I do not see that happening within the Christian community in America today. I don’t see any church rallies to protect the rights of atheists to run bus ads or fly banners on the Fourth of July. I don’t see any Christian bloggers collecting funds to repair the damage done by extremists in their own ranks. (The Friendly Atheist did exactly that after atheist vandals defaced a church wall.) I don’t see Christians fighting for the rights of atheists to say things they find objectionable. (At the University of Illinois, atheists rallied to protest the firing of a professor for expressing religious views.)
There’s another saying that the “Good Christians” should remember:
The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
There are a lot of squeaky Christian wheels rolling down the street today. The hate is palpable. They hate atheists. They hate gays. They hate liberals. They hate bloody well anything and anybody who doesn’t conform to their religious ideals.
And if it somehow slipped past the “Good Christians,” the haters have won the Republican Party. They are synonymous with Right Wing politics in America today.
This basic fact points to one uncomfortable, unavoidable conclusion: The “Good Christians,” if they exist, are not doing anything to prove they love those of us with whom they disagree. If they were, I wouldn’t be spending hours a day — not trying to find something to write about, but rather, trying to figure out which out of the dozens of new stories highlighting Christian hatred I am going to single out. Which anti-woman bill should I focus on? Which imposition of church on matters of state? Which story of gays or atheists being bullied? Which presidential candidate’s newest affirmation of conservative Christianity?
So I’m here to deliver a message on behalf of the atheists who are tired of being told by all you good Christians that there really are good Christians in the world. I’m done mentioning you until you do something worthy of mention. Stand up for my rights — in public, not just on a ten second Facebook comment. Then I’ll mention you. Organize your church to lobby your local legislature to stop having prayers in government meetings. Then I’ll mention you. Collect money and send it to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas that just got firebombed. Then I’ll mention you.
Do something. Be a squeaky wheel. Stand up for what you believe Jesus really meant when he said “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you let your country be taken over by “false believers,” you are no better to me than they are. If you sit quietly because after all, you’re a Christian, and what they’re doing really doesn’t hurt you that much, then what good is your Christian love to me or mine? If the way atheists and gays are being treated by Christians is how Christians want to be treated… Well, I don’t think I even need to finish that thought, do I?
No. I’m done bending over backwards to make sure I don’t hurt the feelings of your mom, who really is an awesome loving person. My feelings are hurt everyday by the hatred and the death threats and the bigotry and the constant barrage of Christian legislation. Actions count. It’s not enough to tell me how wrong you think the Christian bigots are.
Show me. Then I’ll be happy to write about some good Christians.