Wednesday, October 15, 2008

why do Christians visit atheist blogs?

by writerdd

Reading Melissa's post made me think of something I wrote the other day, that may become part of a memoir I am writing about leaving Christianity behind.

I’m not entirely sure why born-again Christians read atheist blogs. I never would have. Perhaps its a morbid sense of curiosity. Perhaps they think they can save us. Maybe they think we are misrepresenting their Savior and they want to set the record straight. (As if God couldn’t take care of his own reputation.) In any case, they claim to want to spread the love of Jesus, but often end up in bitter, heated arguments with unbelievers. From the tone and vocabulary, you can’t actually tell who is the Christian and who is the atheist.

I felt a lot like Melissa does for a long time, and I still do in a way. I refuse to be silenced by Christians -- or people of any faith -- who think "you have to believe in something" is the best response to my atheism. I've been pissed off since somewhere around 9/11. But now I am tired of being mad at Christians. It's really exhausting. While I've been working on my memoir, I've been looking at old photos of friends from church and year books with pictures from the Bible school I attended, and I found myself smiling more than anything else, remembering good times, and good people. I wonder, "What happened to Christianity in the last 20 years to change me from seeing Christians as good people to seeing them as big-mouth bigoted bullies?" I think it's the action of the Christians, always pushing themselves to the forefront, trying to force everyone to follow their rules through legislation, blatantly disregarding the Constitution of the United States. When I was a Christian in the 1970s and early 80s in New York, it was considered uncouth, unspiritual, for born-again Christians to be involved in politics. We were in the world, but not of it. Our mission was spiritual, not political. Looking back, I see that when churches started getting involved in politics, that's when I got a bad taste in my mouth and started to feel like something was amiss.

So, I'm not really sure what to think about all of this. Frankly I'm tired of thinking about it. I wish Christians would just mind their own business and leave the rest of us alone. If they won't do that, then they have to suck it up and take it when we push back. We're not the ones being the bullies.

And Christians visiting atheist blogs and hassling people in the comments are just one example of that bullying. Personally, I think Jesus would be pissed.


Jim Aikin said...

I'm wondering if perhaps they visit atheist blogs in order to test their own faith. Subconsciously they feel doubt ... and in order to banish the doubt, they project it onto the Other. (That is, onto us.) It's a Jungian shadow thing.

W. C. Fields once said, "A man has to have something to believe in. I believe I'll have another drink." One of life's little challenges, I find, is to stay sober even though I don't have anything to believe in.

Melissa LaFavers said...

Thank you, Donna. I appreciate what you had to say. I'm tired of being angry, too, and I echo your feelings that I wish these bullying types of people would leave everyone else alone.

I think what Jim said is probably true in some cases. They don't feel comfortable questioning their faith directly, and they're curious about people who don't need their god(s).

I am trying to find my ground to stand on. I don't want to be an ass towards people. There are times when I have to bite my tongue pretty hard, but as frustrated as I get, I'd still most often go around with a lisp than be mean to others.

And Jim, I totally admire you for staying sober. You are strong and wise.

writerdd said...

Jim & Melissa, amen on both counts.

QrazyQat said...

I suspect they visit them because they find the mere existence of atheism as a possibility a very scary thing.

Author, Atheist, USN Veteran said...

I'm convinced that non Atheists use us as a place they can Heckle. It's an anonymous, non-personal form of communication. Yet, that same person can't seem to have a direct face-to-face conversation using the same, often crude language. For example- someone posted that I had a history in drama- which for what it's worth, was 3 years back in the 70's- so they not only didn't have facts, but wanted to expound on their own histrionic rant, without really getting the point. I think that happens to all of us, as Atheists- people are so ready to bounce with preformulated arguments, they don't hear what is being said.

Paul said...

I don't know I quite enjoy the fray, but I have probably been involved for a lot less time then most of you. Of course, I don't really hold any anger towards theists, mainly pity and contempt. And a good amount of fear at what this world may become if we don't stop this madness. Though I may never tire of it, simply because I am something of a social masochist. I enjoy being the odd man out, and rubbing against the grain. The confrontation is invigorating.

newbie said...

Hi. I'm one of those people who used to look at atheist's sites. Never really commented. Never really understood why everybody seemed so angry, until I stood on the other side. Now I get the anger, but I see much more sympathy from people who have never been in a faith situation than from people who are, like new non-smokers, absolutely rabid atheists rather than "skeptics" (which I think I am -- but I'm skeptical about that).
Here's my real point, though. When I was trying to be "open-minded", when I was really searching out whether or not I could possibly be 'wrong' in my thinking (cause if I was, I needed to do something about it because otherwise I'd be causing a lot of people a great deal of pain) I came across such aggression that I really felt I was going to be physically attacked (Now I bet you're going to say that atheists are attacked by Christians all the time, and you're so right). But that's not going to help people listen and get on message.
From what I've seen of this site, it seems much more "open" than most, more bloggy and relaxed. Good. I got here today through a friend's post on facebook regarding Sarah Palin. I was interested because I'm a Canadian, left wing, artsy and desirous of change in America, too. Thought the Palin choice was a disaster and was worried (still am) that she'll fog up the issues with the loyal Christian vote (don't look at the little problems regarding my experience, knowledge, education etc. -- God's on MY side and he'll fix everything, won't he?). Anyway, on that open letter, I must say that I can see Christians just shutting down. Although I completely agree with the content, I don't think Christians will respond to that. I think they'd respond more to questions that are open-ended and not "this is what you believe and what you think of me". My sister once said that a gay colleague of hers said "you just think I'm going to hell" and she was horrified. But she didn't come away with a sense that she needed to review her thinking. She came away thinking he was wrong, because she certainly loved him. Loved him enough to want to share the gospel with him.

Difficult times.

Christians are become more "warlike" and strident because they're responding to strong examples from Muslim extremists and scientists (I.D. contraversy) to actually put their money where their mouths are -- if you believe in Jesus, then you better be able to back it up.

I think our goal should be to get them to see where they're going wrong on their own, with open dialogue and pointed questions (without attacking).

I was at a Humanist lecture where someone said "a forty year old Christian couldn't possibly examine their faith because they couldn't cope with the idea that they had gone all this time believing something that wasn't true. They would have a nervous breakdown". But I was there. And I was going through that at forty. I never put my hand up to change his mind because the vitriol at this anti-faith event was thick in the air.

I just feel that if we want people to think (and I mean really think and question), they need to feel safe while they do so.

Can we make an environment like that? Rather than worry about who's reading?