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Topic: Conditioned hostility to Christians -an unscientific survey

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Subject: Conditioned hostility to Christians -an unscientific survey
Date Posted: 4/15/2009 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2005
Posts: 2,317
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A member in CMT posted last night about getting nasty resposes to posts on another forum.  In responding, I told her (something she already knew) that while it wasn't fair or right, her username -- which references her faith very clearly -- is causing part of the problem.  I said that lots of people have been harrassed by "toxic Christians" and if we've  been bitten in the past, we sometimes tend to assume (unfairly) that anyone who is very up-front about that faith is planning on beating us over the head with it.  Essentially, we've had enough bad experiences with Christians that we tend to associate all Christians with a negative experience, correctly or not.  (Kind of like poor little Albert and the bunny).

After I posted, I realized that for me, this really is true, and I'd like to know about the rest of you.  Have the bad apples (crazy apples) made you want to run at the sight of a cross or a fish?  If no, how have you escaped this, and if yes, do you think it's justified or does it bug you?  I do feel bad about making assumptions about people -- some of the Christians on this board have actually made me realize some of them really are kind people.  At the same time, if one more person turns up on my porch uninvited to tell me how horrible I am and call it "love" I'm going to put in a trap-door with an alligator pit out there!

Date Posted: 4/15/2009 2:03 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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(note to self scratch mote idea go with trap door) That'll teach the polititians.

To answer your question no I am not conditioned to dislike people because of their faith. Or even to assume they will be pushy about their faith. Ive had plenty of dealings with people here who claim Christianity but are further from the teachings of Christ than any atheist I know. Ive also had dealings with loving kind hearted Christians that Im proud to call friends. Until they show their nature be it nice or pushy I withhold judgement. Also screen names have little bearing on my opinions of people here. I usually dont even read them unless thats all that is there BUT the worst offenders have names that have nothing to do with Christianity.

Date Posted: 4/15/2009 3:18 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,716
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Hmmm.  Well, I would have to get to know you first, but if the first thing you want me to know about you is that you are of a particular faith, I can only assume you are going to be shoving it down my throat at every opportunity.  Perhaps that's not true, but I am going to be wary of you all the same.  Until you tick me off however, I have no reason to treat you any differently than anyone else.  But yeah, I guess I do pre-judge people based on previous experiences.  It's probably not fair, but it's true.

I have no idea who the person is that is being referenced though, and all the people I can think of that I consider fanatical extremists don't use religion as part of their username, so perhaps I am being too hard on myself.  If no one's username is standing out to me, maybe I only think I would notice, and haven't actually paid that much attention after all.

Date Posted: 4/15/2009 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Disappointment is a good word to describe my feelings toward 'em.

It's that little disappointment when I meet someone with whom I hit it off with and then learn that they're Christian (sigh). Bummer.

Date Posted: 4/15/2009 4:38 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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Not reflexively hostile, but definitely reflexively cautious.  When someone brings Christianity into a discussion it's almost like they've said something that indicates they may be paranoid schizophrenic.  I may come to the conclusion that they aren't and be able to have interesting conversations with them, but I'm absolutely prepared to walk away thinking that they are not completely sane.  There are just far too few Christians like Lester was, and far too many like...well, you know the type I'm thinking of.

It's really a shame that the public faces of Christianity are Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell types.

Amy
Date Posted: 4/15/2009 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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I would say that I agree with TomeTrader in that I am disappointed when I find out someone is Christian.

Date Posted: 4/15/2009 5:32 PM ET
Member Since: 10/20/2007
Posts: 5,297
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I'm scared to admit what I think about religion because of the crazy Christians.

 

But it's not just the crazy ones.  Where I live, everyone assumes you are Christian.  When they find out you're not, a wall goes up.  It's happened to me several times.  I feel like I live in a box with two friends and my husband, and the rest of the world is on the outside holding their crosses, trying to save us.

....yes.  I'm constantly afraid of being beaten over the had with the religion of others, and yes.  That's probably a little irrational. 

Date Posted: 4/15/2009 6:05 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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I've met my share of crazies, most notably one family where I used to be good friends with the daughter.  But my mom raised me in a very tolerant church with an amazing congregation, and even though she & the pastor both know my views, I still go to church with her most Sundays just for the company.  As much as the crazy stuff I hear from some self-professed christians pisses me off and freaks me out, the people at my mom's church give me hope that the majority aren't like that. 

I still think they're holding on to something implausible and irrational, probably out of habit or a need to feel safe or important, but I know that they're good people because, skeptic that I am, I've seen evidence of that goodness for myself over and over again.

Date Posted: 4/15/2009 6:09 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2007
Posts: 9,520
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I bet a lot of you would be surprised to know I consider myself to be a born-again Christian. But I don't shove my faith down others' throats, don't proselytize, and I don't particularly have a burning desire to convert non-Christians. I have always considered my faith to be my own personal business, and in that regard, I am way "out of the box" with other Christians.

Don't get me wrong, I am always happy to see someone come to Christ, but that's their decision, not mine. And I don't necessarily believe that non-Christians aren't going to heaven either.  That one got me in a hot debate with someone I used to go to church with.

In the last few months, beginning prior to the election, I got very disillusioned with the antics and behavior of my fellow Christians, not just including or limited to anyone in PBS. In fact, I have stopped attending church because I am really having a problem with things I deeply believe in not being "in line" with Christians' interpretation of what the Bible says.

I have had to seriously consider and pray and be reminded that my beef is NOT with God or Jesus-its with other Christians.

I have a very close friend who is Jehovah's Witness. You may think that is fodder for a lot of heated discussions, but we are both mature women, secure in our faith, and respect each others faith decisions. But tell some of my church friends about that, they will get all paranoid and tell me to stay away from her because they are sure Satan will turn me into a JW. Um, no. Although I have to say, if I were to turn JW, it would be because of the excellent example of the faith displayed by my friend and her family, whom I have been fortunate to meet.

I love my God and my faith, but its very difficult for me to hang around with other Christians right now.

So please don't lump all of us in the same lump. Most of us quietly go about our business and don't bother anyone.



Last Edited on: 4/15/09 6:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/15/2009 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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I think I've mentioned elsewhere on these boards that I only met a handful of Protestants before reaching adulthood (I grew up surrounded by Catholics and Jews), so I tend to be really surprised when i find out someone is Christian/Protestant.  Apprehensive?  Maybe.  But it completely depends on context.  Recently, here on PBS, a club member offered to do me a genuinely kind favor, and she had clear Christian iconography in her avatar.  I didn't really think much about it one way or another.  I also recently discovered that a friend I met through a burlesque class is a pretty devout (though, obviously liberal) Christian, and she's a super cool woman, but we had become friends before I knew her beliefs.  In my day to day life (aside from people handing out pamphlets, and lunatic street preachers) I almost never meet anyone who identifies as Christian, so it has a little of an exciting novelty factor to it.

What makes me apprehensive always is Christianity's history of not being much of a friend to women or the gays, two large sectors of humanity I doubt mainstream Christianity and I will ever see eye to eye on, so I think my problem is more with the institution of Christianity (as Kathy described above) than with any individual Christians.

Subject: Hi-jacking this thread for a minute
Date Posted: 4/15/2009 7:00 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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"A member in CMT posted last night about getting nasty resposes to posts on another forum." 

This sentence reminded me of something, and I am probably going off on a tangent, but....

Why is is soooo wrong to openly discuss a thread and name names? Who? What? When? Why? How? Etc.

People declare such an open discussion "not right" and "unfair" and my personal favorite is when someone claims it's talking behind one's back. Cha right, on an open forum for all to read?

Yet, it's okay to do essentially the same thing if we speak in passive language, refrain from talking about specific people or threads, and use vague words like "a certain member(s)", "another thread."  and "that heated debate" and so forth,  and consider such practice perfectly acceptable? 

Is it not still "unfair" "not right" or "talking behind one's back" even if you're not naming names? It's still a discussion about the same thing. Is it somehow more tactful? Does it make one more "In the know" if you have to decipher evasive-speak?

I've noticed lately because people were all flustered  and downright angry because I mentioned the "evolution" thread and specifically mentioned two toxic Christians by name--Holly and Tammy V. <---oops, I did it again.

Yet I've read several threads in which members complain about other threads but fail to discuss specifics or mention names--as if that's easy to figure out.

Apparently were just supposed to know who "those people" are and which thread this new thread is complaining about.

For example, the other day someone (can't remember who or I'd name her) posted a thread called "Your opinion is noted" or something like that. In it she complained about some other people in another thread, yadda, yadda, yadda and it was just so dang weird. What the heck was she referring to?

Why can't we just spill it?  

Date Posted: 4/15/2009 7:28 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 1,001
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I'm not sure there's anything wrong with the complaining, as long as you acknowledge the right of the people you're complaining about to come into your thread and defend themselves.

I have to agree with Ann.  I've had Christianity thrown in my face and been beaten up with their bible all my life, and grew up with some "good Catholics" who were truly evil, so yeah, I'm jaded.  That said, I have plenty of friends who are Christian, and as long as they respect other beliefs and non-beliefs, I'm cool with that.  Like Chris, I often love to discuss comparitive religion.  Although since joining PBS, I know I've become more defensive, because there are just way too many of the creepy christians on here.

 



Last Edited on: 4/15/09 10:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/15/2009 7:40 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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Although since joining PBS, I know I've become more defensive, because there are just way too many of the creepy christians on here.

What is up with that?  Is it because the site caters to such a broad spectrum of people, many of whom are at least new-ish to the interwebs, or is it truly indicative of the country as a whole?  I have to say, the Creepy Minority give the (I'm sure) much larger group of non-aggressive and not-scary christians a bad name.

Date Posted: 4/15/2009 8:53 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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I'm not sure there's anything wrong with the complainging, as long as you acknowledge the right of the people you're complainging about to come into your thread and defend themselves.

Sure. And then the upset person can run away again and post a new complaint about the thread that was created for complaining about the original thread.

And so it goes.

Ah, it's just interesting, s'all.

 

LOL.

Carry on.

Date Posted: 4/16/2009 1:37 AM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2005
Posts: 2,317
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Tome Trader, no need to worry about the hijack.  I didn't mention the posters name because I only meant to use the thread as a starting point example.  I didn't want to make the thread about her, or make her feel like her particular situation was being dissected.  It's just one example of many, to me.  If I I felt the need to call someone out for their behavior in a thread, I would do it right there.

Kathy, thank you for posting!  I didn't know that you were born-again.  I have a feeling you're what Christ intended Christians to be.  I think Kari is right in that the toxic people seem to have become the face of Christianity, and I think that's a shame.  I've always wondered if Christians generally would like to "take back" the public face of their religion.  I'm not sure how they would go about it, though, or if that would even be a Christian thing to do.

Date Posted: 4/16/2009 7:07 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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I think the collection of "creepy" Christians here is just more visible because they make more trouble. There are a ton of people here that identify openly as Christians that no one has had a problem with because they are genuinely nice passive people. They far outnumber the bullish aggressive Christians who take every question of faith as an affront to their own lives. Like the media a good fight gets more attention than a civil discussion. *shrug*

 

Date Posted: 4/16/2009 7:54 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2007
Posts: 9,520
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Thanks, Ann. Although the Bible does clearly say to share your faith, I know there are better ways to do it that what I have seen, not just here, but in real life mostly. Its easy to dismiss a ranter on the internet. Not so easy when they are staring you in the face.. Even the churches I have attended are constantly talking about sharing our faith in non-threatening ways. Which brings me to another gripe.

When the churches organize projects (such as feed the homeless, clean up the neighborhood, for example), "to show the love of Jesus", I always feel that these "do-good" projects always have strings attached, i.e., well while we are here, we can share the good news and maybe get a new convert. That's all nice and good, but shouldn't the good news be shared as an example of the lives we lead? Not just a special project here and there.

And Chris, I would not classify myself as passive. I would say that I am respectful to other people's religious and spiritual choices. But passive? Not me! I know a lot of passive 'in your face' Christians. Passivity is not necessarily a quality of a "nice" Christian!!

For me, I found God long before I became a Christian, and He did work a miracle in my life, which if anyone asks, I am willing to share, and God remains the foundation of my faith.



Last Edited on: 4/16/09 7:57 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/16/2009 8:08 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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Sorry I dont mean passive as doing nothing. I mean passive as not pushy and in your face but rather living a good life as an example of Christ-like behavior. Pretty much the opposite of those this thread is about. Passive like peaceful not sitting by doing nothing.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 4/16/2009 11:41 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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but we are both mature women, secure in our faith, and respect each others faith decisions

I think this phrase is key. I dont have a problem with christians in general because i am confident in my faith. I am a non-christian and I believe in Naturalistic Pantheism. However, I am respectful and dont push my beliefs down someone elses throat. Although, I am known to debate someones beliefs if they try to tell me how wrong i am and that i am going to hell. The Jehovah Witness wont talk to me, they knock on the door and ask for my husband.

That's all nice and good, but shouldn't the good news be shared as an example of the lives we lead? Not just a special project here and there.

I agree. I participate in a lot of "do good" projects around our area. I think it is nice that churches get involved, but I dont think that the people need to be preached at when they attend. I think that people should do good deeds because they want to help someone, not because they want to try and "save their soul". I dont think anyone has a right to tell another human being what faith they have to believe in. And I think that people should be able to go places or relax in their home without someone trying to shove it down their throats.

A lot of people got upset because Obama said in a speach that we are not a christian nation. I am not a big Obama fan, but I agree with his words. THis was a nation set up to have separation of church and state and for freedom of religion. . So how could we claim one religion over another as our official religion? Some of our founding fathers were Diests, they werent even Christian



Last Edited on: 4/16/09 11:44 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 4/18/2009 11:05 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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THinking about what I wrote above, I think I should add something. I have found that I am actually at a point in my life where I dont feel the need to argue religion with people any more. I know myself and am comfortable in my beliefs that I am very turned off by aggressive people trying to convince me that i dont have the intelligent capacity to think for myself and choose my own faith. So I think more than hostility, I generally feel insulted and assaulted by those types of "christians". I have said in another thread that I would feel pushing my belief on another person as immoral and rude. I truly believe it. My own children arent forced to believe what I beleive. Instead I educate them in all religions and teach them to not take things on blind faith.  They will eventually accept their own faith whatever that may be. I dont have a problem with Christians in general, just the ones that are so aggressive as to be insulting.

Date Posted: 4/19/2009 9:02 AM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,716
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Kathy, I appreciate your post.  There are a lot of Christians, here and in real life, who aren't trying to convert or cause trouble for anybody, which is exactly why they don't get noticed, and that's too bad.  It's the preachy, self-righteous, pushy ones that give the rest a bad name.  I know that's frustrating for you, because it's frustrating for me to get a bad rap for being a non-believer.   So that works both ways.

I also agree with you about the good works of churches.  I think there would be more sincerity if they allowed their actions to speak for themselves.  Good works shouldn't be done for evangelistic purposes or to give the church PR, but because that's what the church exists for.  If the church is sincere in it's mission, then the rest will fall into place.  Too many churches spend all their time trying to preach politics and increase their attendence instead of doing.   

As for myself.....you know how if you expect something bad to happen, and then it happens, you get that much more worked up about it?  That's how I am about encounters with pushy Christians.  They happen so often, and Christianity is so in your face where I live, that I am sick and tired of it.  Everyone assumes you are a Christian, and strangers ask where you go to church, Christians constantly show up at your door to talk to you about Jesus, the kids on the playground ask my child if he has Jesus in his heart....it's just never ending.  So in a nutshell, I am exhausted.  I wish the Christians that participated in these tactics were bombarded in the same way so they could know what it feels like.  Every time that it happens, I grow a little more resentful of Christianity.

Date Posted: 4/20/2009 11:51 AM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 4,979
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everyone assumes you are Christian.

I have found this to be true, the vast majority of the time, IRL.  When DH and I got married (he is Catholic and I am Jewish) it really hit home to him how often people just assumed we were Christian.  We have boycotted Fire Company meetings and events because they were scheduled on Jewish holidays. 

As far as judging based on whether the person is Christian: I would say I'm cautious about how the person will treat me.  I wonder if they'll treat me differently because I'm Jewish and not Christian.  This is in now way whatsoever a reflection of their user name or the person themselves, but something I've developed after 37 years of watching some Christian individuals treat me differently when they find out that I'm Jewish.  I realize that these individuals are not reflective of Christians as a whole, but I'm still cautious at first.

Cases in point: In college, I'll never forget a Christian classmate of my then-boyfriend (his name actually was Christian) arguing with him and his roommates about how all Jews were going to hell because we didn't believe in Jesus.  This boyfriend's mother hated that her son was dating me BECAUSE I was Jewish.  I can't tell you how many times she tried to drag me to church, presumably in an effort to convert me and/or save her son.  The next serious relationship I was in, the family was not religious at all, never set foot in a house of worship, but the mother again had problems with her son dating a Jew.  Her brand of prejudice was not overt, she tolerated me well enough, until her son and I moved in together, and all of a sudden, 3 years into the relationship, I'm a Jewish bitch for taking her son away from her. 

When you encounter prejudices and hatred all the time, you simply learn to proceed with caution.  Call it self-preservation.

But then, my ex-husband's parents treated me wonderfully, and had no issue at all with my religion.

I am very fortunate that DH's family has embraced my Jewishness.  A few weeks ago for spring break, my 5 year old spent the week with my parents.  That week included the Passover seders.  My Catholic MIL, being super thoughtful, sent my son (her Jewish grandson) a Passover card--at my parents' house!  DH's Christian Aunt and Uncle routinely send my boys Chanukah goody bags every year.  Last year's had mini-electric menorahs for their bedroom windows, as well as Chanukah teddy bears.

So while I am cautious based on previous experiences and encounters, I understand that each Christian is different and only a small minority of Christians proselytize and are anti-Semitic. 

 

Date Posted: 4/21/2009 2:59 PM ET
Member Since: 4/17/2008
Posts: 161
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Have the bad apples (crazy apples) made you want to run at the sight of a cross or a fish? 

Yes yes yes Ann. And thank you for starting a thread about a sticky topic.

I feel guilty about my prejudgment but in all honesty I have a deep resentment of the Christian faith.  I struggle not to let my prejudices color my interactions with people who are Christian  but I don’t trust them.
I feel like sooner or later they will try and save me and it makes me jumpy.
I was raised in a Christian household and was told frequently about the  upcoming rapture and the eternal torment that awaited those who hadn’t lived right.
My Father saw demons everywhere and in everything ( which proves that you will find what you are looking for….) and because of this I developed  panic attacks.
Christian  “love”  didn’t feel like love to me, it felt like pure terror. I was even more confused  because everyone around me seemed not to have any misgivings ………
While I have come to grips intellectually  that not all Christians are like that and most are nice reasonable  people, emotionally I will still seize up whenever  talk of faith or holidays come up in causal conversation.
Sigh, so a few bad apples really have ruined it for me.

Date Posted: 4/21/2009 4:02 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2006
Posts: 2,087
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I'm in the same boat as Amber.  Yes, the sign of a cross or a fish gives me the shivers for the exact same reasons she stated above.  I know that not all Christians are rabid right-wingers, but I have had such experiences with ones who are - it has tainted the whole religion for me. 

Most of my family and some of my friends are Christians.  We just don't talk about it. 

 

Date Posted: 4/22/2009 5:53 PM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2005
Posts: 2,317
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Amber, you're welcome.

The responses here, as well as the thread/natural-disaster going on in CMT make me wonder if lots of Christians would like to muzzle the bad apples / crazy apples.  I was really glad Kathy W (Nellie) posted here, I wonder if she's a minority, or if lots of people who would deem themselves Christians also cringe at the likes of the 700 club (or whatever those shows are, now).

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