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When Liberal Christians Attack

Recently I have gotten into conversations with multiple Christians who claim to be liberal and progressive. These are the Christians who mistakenly think that Jesus was this peace and love hippy. These are the Christian who are always telling me that the fundamentalists are not real Christians, but are “misusing” the Bible (despite no solid Biblical evidence for that claim).

Whenever I point out the specific verses in the New Testament in which Jesus says something crazy, hateful, or violent, many of these more liberal Christians don’t even attempt to dispute it. Instead, they start to level personal attacks against me and scream intolerance. Rather than continue that road, I try to stick to the evidence. But no matter how hard I try to keep the discussion civil and to keep it on point and present facts showing that the character of Jesus as portrayed in the Bible was not a nice guy, a surprisingly high number of these more liberal Christians continue with personal attacks and slander. These are the same Christians who are constantly quoting only one verse from Jesus over and over again and that verse is ironically enough the “Turn the other cheek” verse.

This is the essence of the culture war. While many claim that the culture war is between secularists (those who favor a secular society, atheist or not) and the fundamentalists, I don’t think that is really true. I think that the real culture war is between those who believe that all ideas (including religious ones) should be open to honest criticism and those who do not.

It seems that even many of those liberal Christians who claim to know the “true” meaning of Jesus, become just as dogmatic and just as hostile as the fundamentalist Christians they try so desperately to separate themselves from. When we are talking about how religion gets infused with politics, most of these liberal Christians are right there at our side fighting to reinforce the Jeffersonian Wall of separation between church and state, but the moment their own dogmatic beliefs are questioned or honestly criticized, many seem to stop constructive dialog and begin to wage personal attacks.

When I criticize people’s political views, no one has a problem. Those people who hold the political views I criticize will attempt to defend their political views through discussing and debate. Sometimes it gets heated, but it usually stays civil. Everyone acknowledged that political views have every right to be criticized. But when religious views are criticized, all of a sudden everything changes. Most religious people regardless of whether they are fundamentalists or more liberal minded still seem to believe that to even question those religious beliefs is a form of intolerance. Why isn’t political criticism intolerant?

Personally, I think that political views are defensible. People can use logic and reason to argue for or against a political idea or ideology. But religious views are indefensible. No amount of logic or reason will prove a religious idea. It all rests squarely on “faith.” Sure some religious people might offer up arguments one way or the other, but when all is said and done, the argument always ends up on the doorstep of faith. Because religion cannot be defended through reason, logic, or evidence, it’s only real defense comes from an attack on culture. Only by controlling culture to the point in which it has become intolerant to criticize or question religious beliefs can religious believers rest assured that their religious opinions will never change.

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  • http://www.myspace.com/atheistteam The A-Team

    Yeah, I find that this New Age mentality that everyone is entitled to their own personal “truth” is just dogmatic anti-confrontationalism. They just want mommy and daddy to stop fighting and for everyone to just get along. And they’ll dishonestly try to couch that position in the rhetoric of “open-mindedness.”

  • Kat

    I find it amusing whenever you ask a person of faith,( not always Christians, but They do seem to be the most extremist bunch)a simple question, they get defensive. I just like to know WHY people believe the way they do. I’ve tried to stay open minded, I’d really like an answer, but I either get some Bible quote, some crap about how I’m going to burn in hell (for asking and doubting?)
    or I get a lot of nonsence stats on athiest. Instead of defending their beliefs and faith, they try to convince Me that athiest are wrong…I don’t want to argue evolution vs creation…it’s a stupid argument. I get people who say the bible is “THE” word of God but then hem and haul when you ask them a question about the bible..Then all of a sudden, I’m not suppose to take it “LITERALLY. I had one guy who said he didn’t believe in the bible but he WAS a believer. That perked my curiousity so I tried to get him to explain his belief… he first said it was just a feeling..then after questioning him further, he actually told me He had talked to God..that’s right, God had visited him and talked to him….I still say there’s NO ONE who REALLY believes.

  • Liz

    I think the reason religious people get so defensive is because they know their position is so tenuous. I have had good but religious people refuse to talk about the subject out of fear they might lose their religion. Those who will talk have to get loud and emotional because they know reason and intelligence can never explain their beliefs.

    I wonder if anyone has ever been reasoned with and consequently decided to give up believing in their religion. I have never managed to talk anyone out of their religious beliefs. A good persuasive book may do the trick for some on-the-fence types. But I don’t know how we can ever enlighten the others.

  • Jim

    A couple of things:

    Labels, ie. “Liberal” Christians versus “Fundamental” Christians. People tend to use these labels to help to generalize others [especially when they don't agree with them] And, people sometimes put the labels on themselves to generalize their own differences. Label really add little to the true discussion.

    You question intolerance of someone questioning Religious beliefs versus the tolerance of someone questioning our political beliefs. One [the latter] is very much OF the world while the other is [supposed] to be about our First Love or Allegiance. The is a huge difference. Personally, I don’t mind the questioning.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Well Jim, isn’t just claiming to be a Christian a label? When it really comes down to it, we have no choice but to use labels to generalize people. Not all Christians are the same of course just as not all liberal Christians are the same or all fundamentalist Christians are the same. But the label helps to talk about the attitudes that a large number of people hold. Generalizations aren’t a bad thing in general, lol. But when someone generalizes and projects that generalization on ALL that is when generalizations go too far.

      My first love and allegiance is to other people. So for me, that would mean politics. People criticize my politics all the time and I have no problem with it as long as the criticism is about my political ideas and not just mean spirited personal attacks. You say that politics is “of this world” implying that religion is not. I don’t think you can really prove that. It seems that everything is “of this world” because I know of no other world one could be talking about assuming we are using the label of world to mean our Universe. So what is this huge difference which excuses religious opinions from critical thought?

      • Jim

        Yes the word “Christian” can be a very meaningless label, considering some who very flippantly use it to describe themselves or others. I would also say that for those who sometimes don’t understand or really comprehend what being a true Christian entails—generalization becomes the means to describe that which we do not understand.

        God should be our First Love for those of us who do Believe. Second of course is other people or our neighbors, so you and I aren’t too far apart there. Politics is so full of spin and positioning that Truth becomes hard to find, but I do lean towards the Democrats and Obama who I believe is at least trying to do things for the better of this country. Certainly have a lot of disagreement from those even in my Church, but then if there were a set of scales to put present Democrat ideals on one side versus Republican ideals on the other—I feel very strongly that as to “love of neighbor” the Democrats and Obama would win. But, being “of the world” politics is never going to be perfect. Will also agree that very wrongly, Religion becomes very political. When I or other Believers speak of the “world” it is really versus the “kingdom of God”–also something that many of these Christians get wrong in NOT making that distinction.

        • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

          Wow Jim, you said a mouthful here. First, you claimed earlier that labels were bad. Then you start claiming the monopoly on them. What exactly does a “true Christian” entail? You see that is the real problem. Every Christian claims to the monopoly on what a “true Christian” is and to all the other Christians you won’t fit. Why should I take your claim of monopoly any more seriously than the fundamentalist’s claim?

          The character of God as portrayed in the Bible is an asshole, so such a character would never be my first love. Sorry, but people are real, so I love them best. I certainly love them more than some imaginary deity who is described as the worst tyrant and asshole one could possibly conceive.

          Where is this “Kingdom of God?” Will it take us long to get there? lol. According to Genesis, the Kingdom of God is easily reached if one could just build a tall enough tower. You know, we have sent men to the moon and no Kingdom of God. I guess it is make-believe.

          • Jim

            Staks, you seem to be having a problem with perception here. As in, mis-perceiving what I am really saying in previous posts. Never claimed to have any sort of monopoly on Christian answers but I do believe I am understanding a few of those personal attributes. I agreed with you on many points and pointed out what this kingdom of God meant to most Christians and no–it is not a physical place we can all go to in a spaceship. Not asking you to believe a thing here–just stating that labels we put on others is a tool we all use at times to define those who we cannot relate to or understand.

            Do you understand what it is like to be a true, loving-thy -neighbor type Christ-follower? Your comments would certainly indicate otherwise, so different labels seem to work for you.

  • Azadeth

    I think that in a way, the moderate Christians are more delusional than the fundamentalists…or at least in a different way. Fundamentalists are at least honest. They know what the Bible says and they make no apologies for it, whereas moderates cherry pick and go on about “metaphors” and “contexts” that they can’t back up.

    So that’s annoying, but you really hit on another thing that has always bothered me – the atheists who choose to keep their mouths shut around the moderates because we can use their support. Well that may be true, but it’s grossly intellectually dishonest. Ends do not justify means, especially when one realizes that the moderates are a huge part of the problem too, and yet when I speak out against them, some of my usual supporters look the other way in a manner I can only call cowardly.

    In the world of logical fallacies, illogical moderate positions are called Middle Ground/Golden Mean/Moderation Fallacies. Of course compromise can be a wonderful solution to many problems, but not when things like logic and faith are by definition completely opposed to each other. I think the current trend we have of seeking compromise for virtually everything is a function of the PC movement…or just another way to be cowardly and lazy, as it’s a way to say everybody wins without having to actually debate the argument properly.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem working with mainstream Christians for a common goal or against a common enemy (the fundamentalists) but that doesn’t mean that the mainstream Christians should get a pass on their bullshit either. I think we should work with them, but I also think we shouldn’t be afraid to call them out.

      The thing is that even the fundamentalist Christians cherry-pick their verses. All Christians do. Unless they aren’t working on Saturdays and stoning adulterers, gays, non-believers, etc. to death, they are all cherry-picking. It is just a matter of degrees.

  • http://poweressence.com/ Maxwell Jennings

    I agree. They can’t effectively defend against a counter position to their own, so they resort to the primal urge to be aggressive. They definitely take their beliefs as personal and any counter argument is seen as a direct attack on them.

  • NoCrossNoCrescent

    As an apostate Jew, you are in good company, when seeking the sense of marvel and transcendence without superstition. Probably humanity’s best teacher in this area is your fellow apostate Jew, Baruch Spinoza, who, Einstein said, was the philosopher who had the greatest influence on him.

  • TheMechanicalAdv

    Of course it’s not intolerant to tell someone their own faith is wrong (i.e. saying “this is why I’m right to disagree with you”).

    It is intolerant to tell someone that someone else’s faith is wrong (i.e. saying “this is why you’re right to disagree with them”).