Many Christians perusing popular atheist fodder on facebook pages or twitter feeds become uniformly upset and disgusted at the irreverent content they find. It is easy for the atheist community to forget the feelings of hurt that accompany blasphemy. This much is true. Perhaps this is why my own facebook page and other outlets have become a little bit tamer over the last year. I have Christian friends and loved ones whose feelings I put ahead of my own at times.
That said, there is something kind of flattering and hopeful about this situation for the Christian, if he only looks closely.
1. “ATHEISTS ARE SMUG ASSHOLES WHO CASUALLY INSINUATE THAT I AM CRAZY” Yes, sometimes the Ricky Gervais style of faith-bashing lumps millions of otherwise average Americans into a great messy heap of morons.
2. Why are they so frustrated? Why so determined to shake my faith? This is best explained by turning the question backwards. Why are Christians so hellbent on sharing their faith for decades with prodigal family members? They will argue along the lines of,”you would understand if you knew how liberating this lifestyle is, how good God is” etc. Well….for those of us who have gone through religious abuse and psychologically draining experiences encountering Satan and his minions–it sure is a relief to find out we can move on with our lives. But is it easy? Is it really a relief? For some it is far from it!
Humor and snarky sarcasm is a way for some people to move on from the bitterness and hate they were burdened with. It may not be the most healthy and respectful way for them to find peace, but it can be therapeutic. The offenders online may well be surrounded in real life with religious zealots, often in their own families and workplaces. The internet may be the one place they can rip a blasphemous brain fart and not be embarrassed. It may be the best, last or only arena for self expression.
Christians enjoy such popularity in the States, they needn’t hide quite as much. Their beliefs are widely upheld in the court of public opinion, and if what happened in North Carolina signifies anything–the real courts as well. Gay marriage is under attack as are the rights of women. The GOP holds the religious right in a trance. Things are changing to even the playing field but overall, I see a lot of Christian jewelry and symbolism everywhere I look. An atheist bumper sticker may as well read, “please dislike me.” Atheists often feel put-upon but are perceived as shrill instigators and egghead pricks.
Lastly, people of any religious persuasion know a lost cause when they see one. I don’t lose sleep over my neighbor’s values. He is a grown man and not likely to change based on a chat with me. Some people are searchers, others think they found something. If you are a Christian and an atheist is hounding you to look at your faith–be flattered! This person doesn’t really think you are crazy, he thinks you are reason-driven and intelligent. He believes you can study the Bible and find it to be lacking in the areas you find it so rich. He thinks you are capable of abstract thought. He believes in your ability to be open-minded. He has hope for you, in some sense, changing your life for what he thinks is the better. He may be dead wrong, perhaps Jesus is the only way. But at least he is trying to show you his brand of love and conviction. When someone does this in an earnest and respectful way, it is a beautiful thing. When he is just another dick on the internet–just block him or try to look the other way. Whatever you do, don’t assume he doesn’t care for you. These internet bullies can be the nicest people sometimes, they will buy you coffee and talk to you all night long. I know I will. I am always up for a speaking invite and always will be.
I will be speaking in Lynchburg, VA for the first time since Preacher Boy was published. I will update when I have the exact dates and times but for now I know it will be in September or October.
Peace and Love