Saturday, August 18, 2012

When I Was A Christian...

Before anyone who reads this decides that this is "just another post from the atheist point of view" or that it's about me being "against religion", you need to know that I felt EXACTLY THE SAME WAY about the topic I am about to discuss when I was a devout Christian as I do now. EXACTLY. THE. SAME.

When I was a teenager, I was called to give sermons to the SOUTHERN BAPTIST congregation where I was a member in Ringgold, GA MORE THAN ONCE. I remember one of my sermons dealt with what message we sent as Christians with our behavior, and I posed the question: "If someone who knew nothing about Christianity observed us in our daily lives, what would they learn about being a Christian from us? What would be their understanding of what it means to be a Christian?"

I am now going to answer that question.

If *I* knew nothing about Christianity and were observing many Christians today, my impression of Christianity would be that it is mainly about making sure we made a huge show about praying in public before football games, before school started, and at government functions and political events. Also: a lot of whining about the fact that not everyone gives a Christian-specific greeting during seasonal holidays, even though most Christian holidays have pagan origins...

Forget the fact that the Christian holy book makes it VERY CLEAR that making a big show of praying in public is NOT what Christianity is about:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. (6) But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (7) And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (8) Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. – Matthew 6.5-8 NASB
The Christian holy book ALSO makes it very clear that mindlessly reciting prayers by rote is not meaningful Christian behavior, and yet that is exactly what goes on when "The Lord's Prayer" is recited at public events as some sort of obligatory ritual.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. - Matthew 6:7 KJV
It's quite clear that both of the foundations on which all of this noise is being made about prayer before football games is based are discouraged in the Christian holy book. How ironic.

But perhaps the most sad aspect of this drama is that it sends the wrong message not only to non-Christians, who increasingly view Christians as political invaders who wish to force their religion on everyone else, but also to our children.

When your government denies you special privileges when you demand that they treat your religion as though it is the "official" religion of this country (which we do not have, since our forefathers, in their wisdom, made it clear that we were NOT to make an establishment of religion in our government), when they deny your request for special recognition over all of the HUNDREDS OF OTHER RELIGIONS practiced in this country, and you then behave by claiming that you are persecuted, you are teaching children to take on an attitude of entitlement... you are teaching them that if they do not get special treatment as Christians, they are somehow victims.

This is where bigotry begins, folks. It starts with indulging in the delusional behavior that not getting special privileges equals persecution, and it progresses to believing that you are superior because of your beliefs, and/or that your beliefs are superior to those of others.

From there, the attitude grows into the view that other religions are not only NOT entitled to the special privileges that you fancy YOURSELF to be entitled to, but that they are LESS entitled to EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW.

This is why Christians who view marriage between two people of the same sex as PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE (the same way many anti-gay-marriage Christians are FINE with eating shrimp, also listed as an abomination in the Christian holy book) are upset that some Christians are attempting to step on THEIR toes by disallowing THEM to legally marry gay couples in their churches.

And, even worse, the massive efforts and grandstanding that goes into "fighting for prayer" at football games, schools, and government assemblies does absolutely NOTHING to advance the cause of Christianity. In fact, it diminishes its true purpose and everything that it is supposed to stand for, which is practicing kindness and respect toward others, remaining humble in the expression and practice of your faith, (as opposed to loudly demanding that everyone wait while and take notice as you do so publicly) and helping those who are homeless, hungry, naked, and sick.

The only thing that comes from praying before these events is self-satisfaction of the Christian ego.

Now, if the same people who are congratulating themselves for "coming together" as Christians from multiple denominations with the common goal of making a huge drama out of praying before a football game were also putting the same amount of effort into collecting food for the homeless at said football games, it might not be such a vulgar display of selfishness on their part to demand that everyone wait while they recite a rote prayer before the game.

I have no problem with anyone who wants to pray anytime or anywhere, so long as they don't whine about not being allowed to do it over a loud speaker as part of an officially mandated activity on government or taxpayer-owned/funded property. I do, however, find it very sad that so many Christians show such a lack of respect for their own religion by ignoring the truly important aspects of practicing it in favor of superficial shows of power before football games.

I feel that way now, and I felt that way when I was a Christian.

Clearly, being an atheist hasn't changed me. It has merely revealed that my ability to tell right from wrong does not stem from religion, but comes from common sense which we all have the ability to exercise, if only we will shed the ego and focus on what really matters.



  1. I made the same argument on a much smaller scale and not so eloquently put with Tebow last year. I couldn't get fans to say it wrong and over the top...if anything they said it was a good way to show he was a christian because he was a role model. I like your "Christian Ego" term.

    Keep up the great posts...

  2. Angie,

    I appreciate your position and views. While I disagree, I accept your first Amendment right of Freedom of Speech. I do have a couple questions to your comments which I would like clarification on:

    1. As a Southern Baptist Church as you state you grew up in, how were you giving sermons, since you are a woman and that is contrary to the Baptist Faith and message? If the church was a SBC affiliated body, I find it highly unlikely that you were giving "sermons."

    2. Equating eating shrimp to homosexuality is reductio ad absurdum. Peter received direction from God that the dietary laws were void. PLEASE point out where homosexuality becomes acceptable?

    3. I accept every groups freedom of (and from) religion. I do not agree that because one person disagrees that I should lose my rights. I take offense to an atheist who does not pray and give thanks, can I make him/her stop their practice or lack there of in public? No, so they should not stop mine.
    America was founded by Christians who were escaping from a mandated (politicized) Church of England, seeking the free practice of their Christianity. The premise of "Separation if church and state" was from a comment Jefferson made and was intended to slow down politicians who were attempting to legislate religious practice. It does not mean what it has been taken to the extreme these days.

    4. I will NOT argue about public prayer when it is insincere babblings by someone who is trying to demonstrate their piety and not render a sincere praise, request, and thanks to God.

    You have the right to disagree with me, and I will respect your position. THAT is what makes America great, as I am not attempting to change your mind nor am I trying to convert you.

    Thank you,

  3. 1. I was a teenager, so even though I had developed breasts and pubic hair, I suppose the Baptist church where I was a member at the time didn't consider me a "woman", and therefore it was acceptable. Ridiculous, but true.

    2. Are you claiming that the sabbath laws, laws about wearing mixed fabrics, and many other laws in the book of Leviticus ALSO BECAME VOID??? DID PETER RECEIVE DIRECTION ABOUT THOSE TOO??? I know the Christian holy book quite well. Please provide those verses where all of the things you do today that are listed in the book of Leviticus as sins, SOME PUNISHABLE BY DEATH, are now void. Nothing is changed by your argument. MANY laws in the book of Leviticus DID NOT BECOME VOID AND ARE STILL BROKEN BY THE SAME MORONS WHO CLAIM THAT HOMOSEXUALITY SHOULD BE FIXATED ON AND SINGLED OUT AS BEING MORE SINFUL than OTHER sins simply because they are primitive-brained people who simply don't like the idea. I CALL BULLSHIT ON THAT BULLSHIT.

    3. Nobody is trying to stop you from praying in public. You are illiterate if you think that's what this blog stated. We are saying that YOU CAN NOT FORCE EVERYONE TO GIVE YOU SPECIAL PRIVILEGES AND FORCE THEM AS A CAPTIVE AUDIENCE AT A TAX-PAYER SUPPORTED PUBLIC EVENT TO LISTEN TO YOUR PRAYER. You have the right to hold your prayer publicly, but not over a loud speaker, and NOT in such a way that others are forced to leave a place where they have equal rights to assemble in order to avoid being subjected to your group prayer. That's what is so disgusting about so many people who call themselves Christians - they whine and bellow like children having temper tantrums simply because they are not given SPECIAL privileges over ALL OTHER RELIGIONS. Freedom OF and FROM religion has been ruled by the Supreme Court to be crucial to the freedom of everyone to practice whatever religion they choose OR NONE AT ALL.

    If I seem angry, it's because I have grown weary of the unintelligent ramblings of Christians who fancy themselves to be persecuted simply because they can't trample the rights of other people by demanding that they be given SPECIAL PRIVILEGES that they REFUSE TO GIVE TO OTHERS. It's disgusting and trashy behavior, and it is a TERRIBLE THING TO TEACH CHILDREN THAT THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO DEMAND SPECIAL PRIVILEGES AND TRAMPLE THE RIGHTS OF OTHER PEOPLE. That is UNCONSCIONABLE.


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