There is NO EXCUSE for hate! Ever!

“I HATE that!”

“What were those idiots thinking?”

“Raca! You fool!”

There’s a lot going on in the world that makes me mad, that makes lots of people mad.  But, I’m starting to get more upset at how people respond to what makes them angry than the actual thing itself.

Today’s example: we all heard about the lawsuit filed last week by the “American Atheists” that want to have the cross-shaped steel beams removed from an exhibit at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center site.

Personally, I think it’s a dumb lawsuit and it does make me kind of mad – the inclusion of religious symbols does NOT equate with the endorsement of religion by the government. However, the issue of whether to include the cross at the WTC is not the subject of this blog post. Rather, the hatred that some folks have shown in response to the lawsuit is what has me ticked off and writing today.

You see, there are people, and I use the term loosely, that are making some of the most hateful comments that I’ve ever seen over this issue.  And what really irks me is that
they are doing it “in the name of Christ”, as “Christians” and “believers”, making
statements like “stupid atheists. I hope God kills them all” and other ridiculous, hateful crap.

No, I’m not kidding, though I wish I were.  If you don’t believe me, look here at a bunch of actual comments made on a Fox News FB page – here’s a small sample: “kill them”, “shoot them”, “kill them all”, “nail them to that cross”, ” to all atheists – die and go to hell”.

Really? Seriously people, really?

As a Christian, this is embarrassing, and it’s angering. How are we supposed to convince the world that Jesus loves them when “Christians” are spewing that kind of hate towards atheists? (Unfortunately, it’s not just atheists… the atheists just happen to be the “target of the day”.  Last month, a fellow blogger/friend (Suzannah at Shout, Laugh, Love) had a great post on standing up against persecution of gays here.)

You might say, “well, those commenters aren’t really Christian”, that they don’t really know Jesus, and I’m inclined to agree with you. BUT, they are claiming to be Christians, claiming to be on God’s side… and loudly proclaiming that hate and violence is the way they’d like to handle those with opposing viewpoints.

THIS IS WRONG!  And we – Christians that want to model Jesus’ LOVE to the world – need to stand up and say so.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:43-44 that rather than hating our enemy, we should “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.  Is that really that hard to understand?  Can’t we remember that we are to “hate the sin and love the sinner”?

The only time Jesus acted violently was when he overturned the money changers tables in the temple, right? (Matt. 21:12-13) Who was he angry with? People that were mis-representing God, that claimed to be working for God, that gave a false (i.e., BAD) impression of what God is like.

I sometimes wonder: how many people became atheists in whole or part because they were mistreated by Christians? I’m afraid the answer is “a lot”… probably more than I can count, definitely more than I care to admit.  How about gays? How many rejected Jesus because they were mistreated by Christians?

Here’s the thing – as Christians, are we willing to accept responsibility for those that reject God because they were mistreated by the “children of God”?  In Luke 17, Jesus said that it would be better for a man to “be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck” than to “cause one of these little ones to sin”. We usually think of this in terms of the “sinner” that entices someone – the drug dealer, the sex addict, the child abuser.  But how about the self-righteous “believer” that actually drives people further from God because they act in such an unloving manner?

Do you ever feel like yelling or screaming at someone who believes and/or acts differently than you do? After all, you are right and they are wrong?

Would you like to try on this millstone?

I’m not going to pretend that I never get angry, that there is no cause for having righteous  anger on occasion.  There are a lot of things we can and should get angry about.

BUT, I cannot condone or justify people acting in the unloving, uncaring manner that so many people do… particularly when they do it in the name of Jesus.

“They will know we are Christians by our love.”  Boy, do I wish that we actually resembled that comment. Unfortunately, there are many in the world that think they can tell we
are Christians by our hate.

That is sad.

It is wrong.

It makes me mad.

And I really wish it weren’t true.

What are you willing to do when you see “Christians” acting in an unloving  manner?  Are you willing to call them on it?

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21 Responses to There is NO EXCUSE for hate! Ever!

  1. steve wright says:

    I left the church when I was 18 not so much because of hate and intolerance, oh it was there, but because of general stupidity and hypocrisy being spewed from the pulpit. What it meant for me was years of intentionally seeking out a life opposite of a “christian” life, but many do turn away from the church. If you want to see the damage that hate-filled uber-judgmental christians can cause check out the post on ex-christian.net.

    http://new.exchristian.net/

    I’m not even exaggerating, reading some of these posts has made me cry, literally, and made me ashamed to be a christian, so I refuse to use the word. I am a follower of Christ.

    • I read through a few posts before I replied…. you’re right, there are some powerful stories there.

      It’s sort of like the Ghandi quote that you retweeted this morning:
      I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. Mahatma Gandhi

      Follower of Jesus is a good descriptor. It’d be nice if we could restore faith in/the reputation of the word “Christian”, but I’m not holding my breath.

  2. Mary Pat says:

    My science-minded daughter who was raised to be a thinking believer has come up with a great way to explain the phenomenon you are describing. She tells the anti-religion folks she dialogues with to remember that people of faith are plagued by pseudo-Christians, just as scientists are plagued by proponents of pseudo-science.

    • Yup. That’s wisdom showing up at a young age. (She’s the one that’ll be a soph this year, right? Time is flying…..)

      It’s hard to be patient, to forgive… gets tiring at times. Makes me think of Jesus, hanging on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

      He got that right!

  3. Jenni Smith says:

    My husband explains it like this. There are stupid people at Target, but I still go there because I need something. There are stupid people at our school, but we still go there because our kids need to learn. There are stupid people at church, but we still go there because we need Jesus. We’ve stopped focussing on the Christ and we only see the followers. That in part is do to the fact that the followers have stopped “lifting up the Christ for all men to see,” and are only lifting up their own ignorance.

    • That’s exactly right. If every “Christian” was truly a follower of Christ, that tried to actually live and act like Jesus would, then we would be “lifting up the Christ for all men to see”, as you said. Then, we wouldn’t have to have this conversation….

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Jenni!

  4. i read a bit of that comment thread, too, and it was truly dreadful. what’s sad is how common that sort of violent rhetoric has become, even among the non-fringe sort of folks. even if people think they’re being hyperbolic, there is still such power in language, and violence begets violence.

    you are so right–they will know we are christians by our LOVE. thanks so much for the reminder–and for linking to my post, too:)

  5. Pingback: Christians Keep Making Me Mad: Short Blog Post | Philosopher's Haze

  6. hooglyboogly says:

    As an atheist I would first like to say thank you for this post. One thing that erks me about this, and perhaps I’ve not looked in the right place, seems to be the silence from prominent Christian leaders regarding this violent rhetoric.

    While this rhetoric is disheartening it isn’t entirely unexpected. Christians have been slandering atheists for years. There is a wiki page by some Christian group that claims that because we don’t believe in God we have no morals and are therefore more likely to be pedophiles. I wrote about them once so I can find the link if you’d like.

    The other thing about this lawsuit is how it is misrepresented. The lawsuit isn’t merely about a Christian symbol (I don’t have anything to do the the organization that brought the suit) its about the exclusion of all other faiths and philosophies. 9/11 was an event that affected every American and this monument is specifically excluding all other religious symbols or a plaque dedicated to non-believers. The suit seeks to have all of us represented and its intentions are quite clearly stated over at American Atheist who brought the suit. I do support this lawsuit -as trivial as it seems-but this isn’t the post for that discussion.

    You quoted Matthew about loving your enemy and those who persecute you but atheists are not your enemy nor are we persecuting you. Oh sure, we have stupid in our ranks too but you get the point!

    Again I’d like to thank you for your sanity and humanity.

    Regards,
    Hoogly

    • Hey Hoogly -

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and you’re quite welcome. And thank you for your sanity and humanity in return!

      You raise a good question about the silence from Christian leaders regarding the violent rhetoric. In my case (not that I’m a leader), I hadn’t heard anything about the crazy talk until a blogger friend who is a Christian and married to an atheist linked to a united atheists page the other day. If I hadn’t happened to see that link, I would’ve been completely clueless about the vicious comments people have made. Maybe that’s the case for some Christians, ignorance of what’s going on? And maybe some are speaking out but it’s not getting broadcast? I don’t have a good answer, but I do agree that we need people speaking out against the violent, the derogatory, the degrading… no matter who is making the comments.

      On the lawsuit issue, I haven’t really read up, just caught headlines going by. I would not be against adding plaques or other religious symbols as part of the exhibit. My main argument for keeping the cross is that it was a “natural” by product of the attack — it carries the symbolism that means so much to so many, but it wasn’t designed by a human artists hands. I don’t blame you for disagreeing with me on this, though.

      I definitely agree with you that atheists are not the enemy of Christians and vice versa. For one thing, the atheists I know are just as moral as the Christians — they might have a different dividing line on certain issues (quite a few, actually), but both have a sense of right and wrong and strong ethical beliefs. I don’t blame you for feeling disheartened by Christians that assume the worst about atheists. Where the similar frustration occurs for me is when some atheists assume that those of us that believe are either intellectually dishonest or “not all there”, when the truth is that there are a lot of very intelligent believers that have examined the evidence and come up with the conclusion that, yes, God does exist. It’s really too bad, but not uncommon, that people make assumptions about others based on just a few details that don’t necessarily correlate (e.g., you’re not “immoral” because you’re an atheist and I’m not “intellectually dishonest” because I’m a Christian).

      The truth is, there is a “Truth” out there — there is one underlying “reality” waiting to be discovered. And, if atheists and Christians alike are both honestly seeking after the truth, at some point and on many issues our beliefs will eventually converge. The way to get there, in my opinion, is through dialogue and talking things through, not calling each other names and digging trenches.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments here. You know, I can’t call you my “brother in Christ” since you don’t believe, but I can call you my brother as a human, regardless of what our differing beliefs are. (Note: I’m assuming you’re a guy…. figured a girl wouldn’t call herself hooglyboogly!) You’re welcome to drop by here and add to the discussion anytime, and I will drop by your blog and check it out later (right now, I gotta hit the sack — playing guitar at church in the am!)

      Peace –

      Dan

  7. Pingback: Why it makes me so angry « christianinutah

  8. this is all so sadly true. I’m embarrassed to have people know that I identify with those angry Christians, because we both claim to follow a just and loving God.

  9. calling out my bros and sisses in Christ on their bad behavior has often made me unpopular. i’m okay with that.

  10. Chad Jones says:

    While I agree with you in principle, and have spilled much ink this week regarding convictions and inconsistencies, I “hate” somebody every week on my blog. I have no problem with this.

    See the latest entry here:

    http://randomlychad.com/2011/08/6-reasons-why-i-hate-tor-constantino.html

  11. Wishing someone to go to hell is just un-Christian period. We are called to hate sin, but to love sinners. That is not an easy combination. The simplest way of explaining this is that churches, like every other thing, have people in them. People are hateful, arrogant, selfish, violent, and all the other vices. Being a Christian gives you an option to turn to God for help in overcoming that sinful nature, but doesn’t guarantee you’ll apply that option. Nor does calling yourself a Christian make you one.

    All human morality has its origin in religion, in the religious concept that there is such a thing as right and wrong rather than merely actions, but a non-religious person can certainly act out and subscribe to moral principles. There are inherent benefits to moral action that are visible to people without having to have religious instruction behind it. Atheists can be very moral people.

    Atheists active in removing Christian expression from the public sphere can most definitely be regarded as enemies, and should be fought with all the means that law and conscience allows, but we are still called to love our enemies. In a government of the people, as America is, we have the same right to fight for our views to dominate as they do, and we can detest most vehemently their actions, but it must not be a personal hatred. Jesus was most certainly both angry and violent when he drove the moneychangers from the Temple, but he took action against the evil of their actions while still caring about their souls.

    • Yup. Agree with you pretty wholeheartedly here. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

      One question…. Where did you come up with “Snickering Corpses”? Grateful Dead fan? A reference to having died to sin? Just curious….

      • *chuckles* No, definitely not a Deadhead. Not my kind of music. It came out of an IM conversation with a friend, actually. Some cheesy joke was made, and the friend replied with *dies, and laughs*. The positioning of the two, death followed by laughter, made the phrase “snickering corpses” pop into my head and it was too good not to keep. Online gaming is one area wher laughter often follows dying, as one can get killed over and over but still be having fun in a game. And from the Christian side, it reminds me that death is not sorrow, for the Christian. There’s greater joy to come after than any joy we can experience here. It’s not given to us to hasten our time of getting there, since that decision belongs only to God, but we can look forward to joy to follow. It’s why the martyrs could sing; they knew nothing here could ever be more evil than God’s heaven will be good. Death has no sting; it’s merely a doorway to step through to something better whenever God says it’s time.

  12. Good story and a great name. If you were a musician, I’d say it’d be a great name for your band!

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