Meandering thoughts: more persecution ramblings

Today on CNN I saw a blog in their Belief section: My Take: A word to Christians- Be nice. The writer, a pastor in Prescott AZ writes about his dismay at his fellow christians and their often, very vocal hate filled Tweets, blogs, comments etc.

He has written in the past about christians general bad reputation here in the States, and he didn't shy away admitting that the biggest reason christians are called hateful is because a lot of them are loudly hateful! Not because they're being persecuted, or because the media has a bias against them,but because they're setting out to shove their busy-body noses into the lives of others, and scream hateful things when we disagree.

The crux of his piece sums up his arguments really nicely:
More and more, I see hateful Christians chalking up their disrepute to “persecution.” God tells us otherwise. In 1 Peter 4 we’re told, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed. …” And that’s the truth; sometimes we are insulted for proclaiming the good news of salvation in Christ. But listen to what follows: “If you suffer, however, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.”

Then he calls out meddlers, busybodies, as perhaps that asshole person who has to get into a flame war in the comment sections-- my words, not, of course, his.

I read the blog, as I often do, curious about how he'd explain, or even if he would excuse the actions of his fellow worshippers. I saw that all the time as a young teen, and even in the lives of my grandparents, brother and mother in my twenties. This pastor, John S. Dickerson, is a little nicer than I would have been, had I written this piece... but I suppose that stands to reason. He's still a christian, evangelical even, and trying not only to make a living, but bring that "good news" to people who might never have heard about Jesus-- OK, OK, pretend with me, that's the least we can do! These christians really think there are humans who don't know who the fuck Jesus was supposed to be...

I got to thinking, what would I say to my younger self, how would I arm myself with information if I wrote it, this "be nice" blog, what would I say? See, most young christians, kids and teens, are bombarded with very hateful messages at church, cloaked in "love everyone" and "bless their hearts". It was very confusing for me growing up, and I'm sure that I'm not the only person who had to deal with that cognitive dissonance-- love everyone, but hate them too? It was hard.

The hardest part of the whole thing is knowing that what you're being told is so wrong that it borders on stupidity, but being unable, usually due to circumstances, age or lack of knowledge, to be able to explain exactly what's so damned stupid about it.

So, what I'd say, if I were to write that blog:

Be Nice, for crying out loud!

Dear Christians who are persecuted in the US for their beliefs; who feel sad when they're asked to stop praying in public; who like to hate-Tweet, hate-comment or get really angry at Pagans, Atheists and Free-Thinkers on Facebook; and every other christian out there who gets pissed off that they're not living in a country run by Gawd:

Good Afternoon! I trust your Friday's going well? It's noon here, so I know the East Coast is looking rather longingly at the clock, counting down those last three hours, and I can't say I blame you. Friday afternoon is the longest part of the week.

Anyway, my friends call me Em, so feel free; I write this blog, and I'm a Heathen-Atheist [Or perhaps Atheist-Heathen I'm still not sure which order to put those in]. I'm also a former evangelical and remember being persecuted for Jesus in my early teens. I'm writing this open letter to you, to better explain why in the world you need to stop being so hateful and actually start being mannerly. I am hopeful that it will make some sense, but won't hold my breath too much.

I won't be using your holy texts to make my point; you have plenty of ministers to do that for you, and it's not my job to inform or educate you on your own book...Rather I'll be appealing to your sense of humanity, your empathy, and logic. If you don't have these things, you need to step away from the internet and call a therapist right now.

Oh, and there will be some sarcasm. I can't do anything without sarcasm, it's my native tongue. I will refrain, bravely and heroically, from calling you what I want to call you. To give you an idea of what I'm leaving out, I'm not going to call you stupid fucks, morons who can't understand science, brain-washed or ignorant. I'm trying to explain how I think you could improve relations between you and non-you, and telling you that I think you're stupid when you throw a fit about "one nation UNDER GOD" rather than admitting that the pledge isn't actually in the bible probably isn't the best way to go about that.

Anyway...sarcasm, yeah, there will be some.

With no further ado, your list: why you should be a decent human and stop hating people online, or in person who aren't christians, all the while shilling your religious cred:

1. You should be kind because you want people to be nice to you.
Wow, this one's so simple! We teach our kids to be nice, because we want them to think about how other people feel. We teach them not to hit, because it hurts; and to share, because it makes everyone feel good inside. Remember those lessons from the sandbox, and be nice because it's how you want people to treat you. The benefits of this, are that you feel that warming of your heart cockles when you do the right thing without expecting a reward for it.

2. Be nice, because that whole "christian thing" doesn't work, if you're not being like your Christ.
Jesus was supposed to be a pretty stand-up dude. I mean, he was a carpenter, right? So he was your normal, middle-class workman, rough hands, dirty as hell, probably smelled like shit, but he wasn't cruel or mean. He sought out the lowest strata of humanity and actually partied with them! When you choose to talk down to us, those of us who aren't like you, you're not being very Jesus-like... but you are channelling Paul, so I guess if that's what you're going for carry on. Just don't tell us you're a christian, admit it, call yourself a Paul-ian or Paulist, and knock off the hypocrisy of claiming to follow that meek, pacifist. OK?

3.Being nice means you might actually see what it's like to have a real conversation, rather than a shouting match.
You can't tell me anything about your religion that I don't know. Trust me on that one. So you can't convince me "if I just read the bible, I'd convert". Won't work; de-converted because I read the bible... Also, science is my God, if I had to pick one, and I dig it so hard that when you lie about it I get annoyed. History is my Goddess, if I have to pick one, so the same applies. Remember this when I correct you about it, don't be a jerk, maybe follow my research trail? Or if I call you out on lying about the Founding Parents, or the Pledge, or any history of the Separation of Church and State-- maybe, just maybe listen to me; I love this stuff, so I know what the hell I'm talking about. Then voice your opinion, no shout, not accuse me of being persecutory, not shrieking about god, or how I'm going to hell. Listen, then talk, and I'll listen. It's called having a conversation, and it's how grown-ups do things-- with mutual respect. You can't put it out there on Facebook, a blog, comments or etc and expect a free pass: it's live, it'll get talked about, and eviscerated-- if you can't accept that, don't post it.

4. Which brings me to my next point: being nice means being respectful because I am a person and wholly worthy of respect-- not so you can proselytize me, and save my soul. That's not respect, actually, it's the height of disrespect. You're telling me you only want to be near me, so you can save me from some imaginary end-of-days scenario. Rather than talking to me, really talking to me, maybe figuring out if I'm a decent person, you've already written me off, and if you can't "save" me, you're too sanctified to even talk to me. That isn't nice at all! It is, however, persecution towards me, and those like me. It's also pretty hypocritical of you, those who claim to love everyone... think about it for a moment.

5. Finally, being nice is just the right thing to do. If you're being a dick because I won't go to your church, or I refused your prayers, or I told you something you didn't like hearing, you're not being persecuted: you're just being a dick! Conversely, if you're being nice and gentle-personly to me, and I call you a fuckface just because you're wearing a cross, then yeah, that's persecution. I wouldn't do that, but I will call you out on trying to shove your religion into my life, and the lives of my family. See, if you want to live a certain way, that's fucking fantastic! But, and here's the bit you christians seem to have such a damned hard time with: you can't make someone else live according to your beliefs... that's petty, tyrannical, and rude, and really fucking nasty of you.

A note here, being persecuted means, at it's most basic and modern, that someone is abusing you for your stand on some issue, or your belief on some thing. Abusing you, like beating you, attacking you, throwing you in jail; taking your children away; sacking you; kicking you out of your home, or preventing you from getting housing; making you starve; refusing you medical care, or medication. 

[I've never heard of any christian in the US or anywhere else, who has gone through any of the above things. I have heard, seen and experienced those of us who aren't christian being subjected to such abuses by those proclaiming that they love them some Jesus, however. It's not persecution of your beliefs, if you're doing it to someone else.]

Persecution is not disagreeing with you, telling you "thanks, but don't pray for me, it's insulting that you're trying to ask your god to force me to change my mind like that", telling you that you're wrong, sharing my own ideas and thoughts with you that embrace science; getting medical care or medications without your permission, or against your thoughts on the matter; refusing to stand silently while you pray; refusing to deal with, ignore or put up with you and those like you being nasty to the LGBT community; not letting you preach ID in schools or denigrate science... those aren't persecutory-- they're part and parcel of being in a multicultural society that values people and doesn't hold one religion up over others.

You should want that society, believe me... This society lets you freely walk about with your cross, even if it clashes with your clothes, and looks like you bought it at a dime-store. This society lets you refuse medication, for yourself, and makes allowances for your holy days. This society embraces you, and your beliefs, and wants you to do the same for others.

Instead, more often than not, any disagreement, or lack of complete agreement, is greeted with shouting, profanity, anger, badly spelled signs and calls for eternal damnation against all who disagree-- topped off with the phrase "Because I'm a christian" added on like a cherry on that shit-sundae you just handed out.

Your beliefs are only sacred to you; if they intersect with science and are found to be false, incomplete or wrong, you can still hold them-- just don't demand that others respect that.  You can't ask, demand or work to force, everyone to swallow your beliefs, so that you feel more comfortable... the world doesn't work that way.

If you really want to experience persecution, then please, by all means, hire someone to beat you, call you names and berate you for your Jesus. I'm sure you can find a professional Dominatrix willing to do that for a very reasonable price, and it'll give you some idea of what it's like to be "thrown to the lions"... there's a huge shortage of coliseums to throw you into these days, so you'll have to use your imagination. It's the best I can do, sorry.

Just don't claim I'm persecuting you, like Jesus, if you still have a home, food and all your fingernails... OK? Otherwise, you're just lying to yourself, and looking like a complete moron to everyone around you as you bask in your stupidity and wear it like a banner, proclaiming your allegiance to your god. Stupidity should never be lauded.


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