Christian Tolerance.. er, not

Friday, June 12, 2009 7:20 | Filed in Faith & Forteana

Quite some time ago, I wrote about atheist intolerance and religious bigotry. This led to some discussion, as some people (in this case the atheists) seem to find it difficult to accept that their side (or certain people, or certain behaviours on that side) can be wrong from time to time.

I don’t really see myself as having a side, other than in being tolerant about other people’s beliefs, so I’ve also written about intolerance by religious people, the fact that some religious groups would support torture more than others (and how that was also incorrectly presented as a ‘Christians support torture’ agenda).

But thanks to @aaronbassett, I came across a site called “Republican Faith Chat” with the tag line “Conservative Christians ONLY. Liberals, Atheists Not Welcomed”, and in particular a post about baptism.

Jesus loves the little children. But make no mistake: He will fling them into HELL in a New York minute if they don’t tell Him how much they love him (not just think it!) and have a FULL IMMERSION baptism.Prophetess Debbie: “Will Jesus Send Your Baby To Hell?”

Now everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, and I know different Christian groups have their own interpretations of what God/Jesus wants: I just find it difficult to believe that a God which would sentence an innocent child, not even old enough to understand what is going on, to everlasting torment is one that anyone would want to believe in. If there is a God, I don’t think this fits with the Christian message.

I’ll go further: if there is a God, and He would effectively torture innocent children because they have not been baptised through no fault of their own, then I’d feel obliged to support those who were standing against him. Fortunately, I don’t believe that this would be necessary…

The post also recommends that parents video their kids saying that they love Jesus — and much, much more than they love their parents. I’ve got no objection to people wanting their kids to love Jesus: for people who believe, Jesus was a great teacher, and was sacrificed for mankind. What I do worry about is the need for it to be on tape.

After all, surely God / Jesus whoever is capable of looking into our hearts and knowing what we really believe, and/or of being omniscient. In such case, what’s the point of it being on tape? Someone added a comment which highlights the technical issues you might want to worry about whilst filming your little ones…

Will they have VHS, DVD or Blue Ray format? If it’s going to be a while before JD [judgement day], disks will probably hold up better in the coffin while the body decomposes… I’ve got old VHS tapes that don’t run any more. It would be a shame to watch your little ones be sent to damnation because the sound track on the VHS was ruint.‘Shocked Silly’

And then of course when someone dares to suggest that Jesus was a bringer of peace and would not condone torture, particularly not that of innocent children, they are dismissed thus:

Stop trying to turn our Lord into a sissified, hippie peacenik. Take your blasphemy somewhere else.‘Tiffany’

This Tiffany then goes on to point out that when a bald headed prophet was mocked by youths for being bald, they were set upon by bears, thus proving that the Lord is quite happy to allow children to suffer. Well, that’s maybe a tricky passage (2 Kings 2:23-25) for someone interpreting the Christian message, but of course it is in the Old Testament, which has a much more ‘fire-brimstone-and-smiting-thy-enemy’ sort of a tone, so much so in fact that some early Christians (e.g. Marcion c.85-160) believed that they must in fact have meant two different Gods.

However, I’ve got sidetracked here. Because of this admonition not to mock people for being bald, Tiffany goes on to add:

that verse has had a profound effect on my life. I never make fun of anyone I know who has cancer and has thus lost all her hair from chemotherapy‘Tiffany’

…from which we are invited, no doubt, to draw our own inferences of whether or not it would have been okay if not specifically mentioned in the Bible.

…unfortunately after this, the comments section deteriorates into two-way abuse (people mocking the site/Christianity and being abusive, people defending the site and mocking atheists).

But I’m not disputing that these people have a right to their own beliefs. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the repeated assertion that they are right, and that God/Jesus must be the way they say he is, and that everyone else is wrong. But then again, it is their site: specifically for conservative Christians — so it’s not like they are going out to try and convince anyone else, is it?

So in this case, whilst I may suggest that this message does not represent Christianity as I know it, they aren’t trumpeting that message to a wider audience, so shouldn’t they be allowed to get on with holding those beliefs without people attacking them? Tricky one, that. Obviously if there is a God, then ultimately at the end of the day He will have to sort out punishments/rewards and possibly tell people if they were believing the wrong thing.

However, I do think that at least while we’re here, we ought to be a little more respectful of one another. If there is a God, He can sort out who was right at the end. If there’s no God, or afterlife, then oughtn’t we try and be as pleasant to each other as we can so we can all enjoy life? And that means not dismissing someone else’s God as being a “sissified beatnik”; that means not telling someone else that their interpretation of God is wrong, and it means not dismissing someone else’s religion (or telling them they will burn in hell for not having one).

That’s what I’d like to see. But then again, it might be difficult to find common ground with someone who truly believes this

Maybe most of you are fortunate not to have to ever met a lib[eral], but let me tell you this: They are wicked, horrid people with no souls. Be on your guard: They may seem friendly, but it is only a ruse to get into your precious child’s one-piece. It is a well known fact that Libs like to take baths with infants so they can size them up for sex.

What can you do? Well, it is really quite simple. If you know any libs in your neighborhood, make a preemptive call to Child Protective Services! Tell them that the family in question is probably getting naked and having sex with all of their children. Chances are you will be right!

…is either incredibly misguided, foolish, stupid, deliberately deceitful, or simply barking mad. Anyone who truly honestly believes that would be. But do they?

You see, I think — nay, am convinced — that the whole thing is a spoof, after having read several of the posts. A very clever spoof that not only parodies right-wing conservative Christians, but also sends up people who will believe almost anything of right-wing conservative Christians (including probably some right-wing conservative Christians). There’s maybe a little lesson in tolerance there too: we shouldn’t be so ready to believe negative things of groups we don’t necessarily support.

I’ll be honest: at the time I started writing this post, I thought the site was genuine. Initially I thought it was a spoof: then the comments made me think it was real, then further posts (some authored by the more unhinged-sounding commenters) convinced me of the spooficity of the site.

Of course, if by some chance I’m mistaken and it isn’t a spoof, you might want to be a little bit worried. It’s a little unpleasant even if it is a spoof of course (I can’t agree with even pretending to support some of the things they say), but a lot less worrying…

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10 Comments to Christian Tolerance.. er, not

  1. Steve Pugh says:

    June 12th, 2009 at 7:45 am

    I saw that site a few days ago and I’m convinced it’s a spoof.

    The scary thing is that some of the commenters, pro- or anti-, might not think so…

  2. Christophe says:

    June 12th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    ThePickards wrote: “Jesus (…) was sacrificed for mankind.”

    It’s amazing that people still believe this. The idea that you can sacrifice one person for the good of a community is called scapegoating. I don’t mean the modern variant where a community consciously “appoints” a scapegoat (for example when a political party dismisses a leader after a defeat in the elections), but the spontaneous social process where a community in distress turns against a (more or less arbitrary) individual, and believes that the end of the crisis has a causal relationship with the physcal elimination of that individual.

    Jesus, by his good deeds, is the opposite of an individual that causes harm, so his death makes the crowd guilty of eliminating an obviously harmless victim rather than eliminating a threat to the community. His death should throw a spanner in the works of the scapegoat mechanism, but neither the Church nor the atheists (with few exceptions) got the idea. Check out René Girard’s book The Scapegoat, or The Girard Reader (and Wikipedia) for a fuller explanation.

  3. JackP says:

    June 12th, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    @Christophe – I’ll have to (respectfully, of course) disagree with you on this.

    There’s a difference between a voluntary sacrifice (e.g. the sacral high kings of ireland, who believed they were serving a higher purpose, or someone who performs a heroic act to rescue another with the expectation it will result in their death) and the sort of sacrifice where an unwilling victim is hauled out to have their throat cut.

    Christianity in this case is, as I understand it, a case of Jesus (whther person/God/person+God/whatever) allowing himself to be sacrificed for our sins: the moral equivalent of the heroic rescue – the idea that mankind is redeemed by his sacrifice, as opposed to simply being worse off.

  4. ollie says:

    June 13th, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Blueollie here (from Republican Faith Chat)

    Someone needs to google “Poe’s Law”. :)

  5. Mike says:

    June 13th, 2009 at 3:49 am

    That site does have an air of ‘Church Of The Subgenius’ about it…

  6. JackP says:

    June 13th, 2009 at 9:11 am

    …you know, I had been going to mention Poe’s Law – and indeed thought I had. So I thought initially you were saying I’d got the definition wrong.

    Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thingPoe’s Law

    Incidentally, Ollie, one of the clinchers was when I followed the link from your comments on the site to your personal site and realised that at least your RFC persona did not match the tone on your personal site.

  7. ollie says:

    June 14th, 2009 at 1:19 am

    More evidence:

    1. See Tiffany’s post about Prop. 8 and the California’s “Negroes”. That bespeaks a genuine bitterness.

    2. The June Gordon character: since when does a semi-literate master html? (”she” performs font style and color changes that are not provided for automatically by wordpress.)

  8. mark says:

    June 14th, 2009 at 10:23 am

    religion in principle is a great thing (whether right or wrong) – it gives communities a shared belief and purpose to their lives.
    the ultimate irony is that it’s people who spoil it all.

  9. chartroose says:

    June 15th, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Jesus Christ, those Christian hypocrites are scaaary! They frighten me more than anything else in the world.

    I’m going to fill my bathtub to the brim and give myself a full immersion baptism (”…in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holey Spigot, amen).

    If that doesn’t work, I guess I’ll end up burning in Hell. See ya’ down there, Jack. We’ll have a hot, hot, HOT time!

  10. JackP says:

    June 15th, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    @Chartroose: fortunately it’s a spoof in this case – but there’s probably some believing most of what they say.

    And secondly, I have to say that your invitation to hell sounds like a bit of a come on :-)

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