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The Anti-Evangelical Hate Machine

The Anti-Evangelical Hate Machine

by Mike Duran · 281 comments

WARNING: The following post contains profanity, sarcasm, innuendo, and not-so-subtle digs; it may be unsuitable for those who eschew Absolutes (other than their own) but have, nevertheless, cultivated a refined sense of moral superiority and self-righteous indignation.

* * *

How better to demonstrate your evolved morality and uber compassion than by hating conservative Christians?

Don’t try to logically grasp the dissonance of that objective. You see, even though they decry hatred, bigotry, judgmentalism, and mean-spiritedness, religious progressives feel they are justified in loathing evangelicals.

Take for instance John Shore who, in his HuffPo piece A Progressive Christian Asks, ‘How Do I Not Hate Most Christians?‘, blithely refers to conservative Christians as

  • “stupid”
  • “morons”
  • “idiots”
  • “dipshits”
  • “assholes”
  • who believe “horrendously toxic bullshit.”

Apparently, demeaning other believers and calling them “dipshits” and “assholes” isn’t one of the 10 Ways (We) Christians Fail to Be Christians.

At least this Unitarian Universalist minister tries to be more nuanced about her intolerance for evangelicals:

All religious traditions are not equal. Some beliefs foster freedom, growth and a deepening of compassion. Others are rigid and exclusive, warning of eternal punishment for those who don’t believe in the one true path to salvation, as they see it, or for those who love someone of the same sex.

…But for the damage that conservative Christianity does to people and for its perpetuation of prejudice and hate, I must reject this tradition.

Which is fascinating coming from someone who believes ”There is truth in every religious tradition.” Apparently, conservative Christians have become the one exception to that inept mantra.

Contemplating the utter hypocrisy of these positions will, again, get you nowhere. In the progressive’s philosophical fog bank, it’s okay to be intolerant, snide, foul-mouthed, condemning and judgmental… provided your objective is to belittle evangelicals. Everyone else can share a kumbaya moment. It’s us evil conservative Christians who are shunned from the circle.

So it’s no wonder that this sensitive, deeply loving, community of activists and emobloggers would give rise to the Anti-Evangelical Hate Machine — an entire movement bent on cataloging, ridiculing, scoffing at, lampooning, and mocking evangelical culture.

Here’s a sampling of the Hate Machine at work:

Stuff Christian Culture Likes — The Webmaster explains, “This is a scientific approach to highlight and explain stuff Christian culture likes. They are pretty predictable… Christian culture is funny because it doesn’t have much (if anything) to do with Christ himself.” In that spirit, SCCL “scientifically” mocks worship conferences, mocks conservative politicians, and mocks evangelical terminology. Justifying hatred of evangelicals never seemed so… “scientific.”

Stuff Fundies Like — Which lists “Fundy Rules” like:

1. I am right and you are wrong. Always.

3. The less certain something is, the more certain you must appear to be about it.

6. The less fun it is the godlier it must be.

7. Women’s primary purpose is to serve as a temptation to men. They are also somewhat useful for housework.

9. If it is new it is bad. If it is old it is good.

10. There is no situation that a good dose of ministerial yelling can’t fix.

Of course, this unintentionally reveals Rule Number One of the Anti-Evangelical Hate Machine:

1.) Do what you must to make conservative Christians look as stupid as possible.

Jesus Needs New PR — Matthew Paul Turner aggregates wacky Jesus pictures, and run-of-the-mill evangelical items like Pet Baby Jesus Rocks, Jesus Popsicles, and A Jesus Mini-skirt. You can also sponsor a child in Sri Lanka or get magazine discounts while perusing these evangelical inanities. Wondering if Turner now considers himself Jesus’ “new” PR guy?

The Christian Taliban — Describes their evil evangelical adversary thus:

…the “Christian Taliban” is diligently working toward an America where we will be forced to worship their concept of God or face the consequences of their tactics of terror. We will live in a nation where Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu children will be forced to pray to a vengeful and hard-hearted God who will proclaim that they will burn in the fires of hell because a loveless and cruel concept of Jesus is not their personal savior. We will live in a nation where genuine Christians who are the true believers who know that both God and Jesus are the purest form of love will be forced to deny a loving Christ and worship a false ‘Jesus’ who represents oppression, punishment, revenge, hate, and bigotry.

Homosexuals, human rights activists, environmentalists, women’s rights advocates, and others will be persecuted, jailed, and perhaps eventually executed because they will refuse to believe that God is cold-hearted and filled with hate instead of love.

BEWARE THE COMING EMPOWERMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN TALIBAN!!!

And here I thought only evangelicals were fear-mongers.

Christian Nightmares — Aggregates the worst in evangelical lunacy, while wearing a silver mask.

The Christian Left on Facebook — Who recently pointed out, “Conservatives aren’t going to stop doing stupid things. We’ll be around for a long time to point it out when they do.” Praise God that someone is policing the Right! My only question: Does the Left ever do “stupid things”?

If you’re looking for evidence of the love, compassion, civility, and peace that religious progressives profess to espouse, you won’t find it on these sites. The Anti-Evangelical Hate Machine has one mission: To paint the worst of all possible pictures. Making conservative Christians look like “morons,” “idiots,” “dipshits,” and “assholes,” who believe “horrendously toxic bullshit” is the Machine’s aim. The final product on their assembly line is a plastic caricature compiled from nutters, extremists, trivialities, parities, and fanatics. Their motto: The only good evangelical is an ex-evangelical. They accomplish this by framing the term “good evangelical” as an oxymoron.

I won’t say this is the most effective mode of attack. Especially by those who love to tout their trips to Haiti, humanitarian efforts, sympathy for the down-trodden, and unusual compassion for anything LGBT.

Tactically speaking, the Anti-Evangelical Hate Machine is strangely similar to the New Atheists. The primary method of apologetic for both groups is… ridicule. Many atheist sites are more ANTI-Christian than PRO-Atheist; rather than articulating evidence for atheism, they spend most of their time deriding theists, IDers, and creationists. Religious progressives fall into the same trap. Rather than articulating an apologetic for Religious Leftism, they poke fun at, deride, and curate what they consider Evangelical extremes.

Which reveals a potential bankruptcy of ideas and does NOTHING to further their position.

(Maybe this is why it’s been suggested that atheists should make alliances with religious progressives. If they haven’t already.)

Nietzsche warned, “Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.” Sadly, in their attempt to identify the “Christian Taliban,” curate its atrocities, and prop themselves up as Jesus’ new PR guys, they are in danger of becoming the monsters they fight, mirror images of the Westboro Baptist loons. But instead of “Jesus Hates Fags” it’s “Jesus Hates Fundies.”

Both creeds amount to “horrendously toxic bullshit.”

Listen, I do my share of criticizing the American Church and laughing at stupid Christian stuff. Make no mistake about it, in any big family there will be fools and folly. Frederick Buechner marveled that God recruited so many “lamebrains and misfits and nitpickers and holier-than-thou’s and stuffed shirts and odd ducks and egomaniacs and milquetoasts and closet sensualists.” I’ve been around the Church long enough to know there’s nutters on both sides of the aisle. Religious progressives have their share of “morons,” “idiots,” “dipshits,” and “assholes.”

And to pretend otherwise is, indeed, worthy of mockery.

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{ 267 comments… read them below or add one }

J.S. Clark November 5, 2012 at 7:31 AM

A good tree produces good fruit. A bad tree produces bad fruit.

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Barb Riley November 5, 2012 at 7:45 AM

This is why I loathe sweeping generalizations about groups/denominations/genres, etc. There are extremists (and moderates) in every case. I also don’t associate myself with any one group for this reason. I love Nietzsche’s warning, because each of us has the potential to fall into thinking we’re better than others. Instead we should remember: there by the grace of God go I.

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Jessica Thomas November 5, 2012 at 8:03 AM

**NUTTER COMMENT ALERT**

The tolerance for everything but a Jesus who claims to be the one and only way (and those who believe in Him) is the perfect environment for a “loving” anti-Christ to rise up and fool the nations into believing he/she wishes to bring peace to the world.

His truth is a sword. It divides. There are only two sides. Choose wisely.

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Jessica Thomas December 12, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Update: I’ve been following Stuff Fundies Like and I think it was misrepresented in this post. I’ve been doing some more research into the matter, and I think I get it. I apologize to any SFL followers I may have offended in this comment thread…or who may read my comments in the future and become offended… I can’t speak for the other sites. Haven’t looked into them.

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Julian Walker November 5, 2012 at 8:15 AM

It’s good that someone has finally commented on this. I too am know for my negative attitude towards most Fundamentalist beliefs, therefore it carries over into my thoughts about how they behave in general. I went to a Conservative Christian school for two years and that was more than enough for me. But good article Mike.

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Britt November 5, 2012 at 8:35 PM

This piece speaks in the same strident “see how much they suck” child’s voice that it decries. What you don’t really even touch on is just how pervasive the conservative movement has become in American culture, and how much of a minority progressive christians typically are. The unfortunate synergy between public christian conservative talking heads like Pat Robertson and secular conservatives like Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter coarsens the debate with all kinds of inane political/religious rhetoric. Is there any question why the Rachel Maddows and Keith Olbermanns of the world have stepped in to meet the noise from the left? So too some of these online sources you cite in the religious sphere.
So do you allow for more than one position on hotbutton issues like gay marriage and abortion? Or do you accept the typical conservative positions on these issues as the only acceptable ones (as they are so often argued). Maybe you wouldn’t carry the sign yourself, but do you silently agree with the sentiments of the Westboro Baptist Church… “God hates fags!” Because if you feel these issues have somehow been settled beyond all doubt, you haven’t really been paying attention. Both on the left or the right, it is easier to simply dismiss those who disagree, as opposed to the more difficult and adult work of figuring out how to coexist.
Don’t stay stuck in the sandbox if you feel you can step up and talk to the other adults.

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Mike Duran November 5, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Britt, I’m not sure if this question is directed at me. And I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. I don’t silently, or openly, agree with Westboro Baptist Church. I attend a church with Democrats and Republicans, all of whom wrestle with “hotbutton issues” and arrive at different conclusions. If you peruse my site you’ll find I have a lot of conservative positions but like to think I don’t fall neatly into any one box. Anything else?

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Bobby November 5, 2012 at 9:39 PM

So your condescending “adult” voice is better than Mike’s supposedly “childish” voice?

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Heather Day Gilbert November 5, 2012 at 9:43 PM

I’ve heard this argument before–”You’re not a grownup (read: you are publicly disagreeing with us)–get out of OUR sandbox.”

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Kessie November 5, 2012 at 8:37 AM

Heh, I circulated through that mindset and have worked my way right back to being a fundie. I just can’t get around the solid fact that Christians are so dang NICE. Nobody else on any of the places I’ve been are as all-around nice as Christians.

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David November 23, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Ive yet to encounter a ” nice ” fundie , they are half crazed and mean as snakes

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John November 5, 2012 at 8:48 AM

THANK YOU, MIKE! This is what someone needed to say, and I’m glad to finally see it.

There’s also the bumper crop of Progressive Christian feminists, like Rachel Held Evans and Dianna Anderson, who paint evangelicals like they are little more than stooges enslaved by misogyny and homophobia, incapable of showing true compassion or understanding to rape victims or gay people, and unable to treat men and women as equals.

I don’t hate them. It’s simply frustrating beyond belief interacting with such people; since I’m a white straight male who disagrees with them, I must be the enemy and am not worthy of rational, polite discussion. (I’d love to see a post about this wave of hypersensitive Christian feminism in the future ;)) Thank God there are other kinds of feminists in the body of Christ, ones who are worth the time of day.

Again, well said. We know there’s a problem in the church when one side of it claims another side is the worst enemy to God’s Kingdom, the antithesis of Jesus Christ, unable to bring social justice or fully love their neighbors, etc. Whatever happened to being reconciled in love? To enduring all things?

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Bobby B November 5, 2012 at 12:06 PM

While Evans certainly drifts in this direction, I wouldn’t peg her in quite the same circle as those Mike mentioned above. She’s more nuanced (in my opinion) but I will add she can sometimes make too much of the complementarian/egalitarian debate (like most people who even involve themselves in that debate).

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Pat Rexrode November 5, 2012 at 8:20 PM

I think we know there is something wrong with the Church when both sides of the schism are leveling the exact complaints/accusations.

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C.L. Dyck November 5, 2012 at 8:47 PM

“Whatever happened to being reconciled in love? To enduring all things?”

Indeed. Interestingly, William Lane Craig points out that the concept of “tolerance” and “intolerance” has gotten warped in the process of cultural dialogue. (I was just watching him on YouTube the other day, and now this discussion…)

In the politically correct milieu, he says, “tolerance” means “I dare not disagree with what you say,” but in fact, if we tolerate a thing, that inherently implies disagreement. Otherwise we would simply agree with it.

So I think, then, that tolerance is reconciliation in love and enduring all things…not necessarily agreeing, but not forcing people to toe a line, and not vilifying differing opinions either. Like Mike, I get tired of villains complaining about villainy. We *all* have a sin problem. Hence the need for Christ.

The WLC vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzbVCV6XhvQ

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Bobby November 5, 2012 at 8:49 AM

So right about the connection between New Atheists and progressives. Trying to prove a negative is impossible. progressives seem more worried about slamming conservative religious types than painting a positive picture of an alternative.

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Mike Duran November 5, 2012 at 9:40 AM

I posted not long ago on Progressives and the “God” Problem and made a similar point about why progressives have such a uniquely difficult time making positive statements on who God is.

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Kate November 5, 2012 at 6:32 PM

I’m an atheist who doesn’t comply with the New Atheist position, and I agree with you. It’s pretty fruitless to just shut down others’ ideas all the time instead of proposing some picture of what love and compassion actually look like. I appreciate your comment.

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Heather Day Gilbert November 5, 2012 at 8:57 AM

THANK YOU for this refreshing post, Mike. I’ve debated with some of these ex-fundies and to “debate,” they constantly resort to name-calling, straw-man, bandwagon, and every other argumentative fallacy you’ve ever imagined.

Try bringing the debate back to the BIBLE and see how far it gets you with these “Christians”–some of them might truly be Christians, but I believe most are NOT.

And if they are, they’re doing nothing to build up/edify the body of Christ. You will know them by their fruit, and in most cases the fruit is rotten to the core.

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John K. Patterson November 5, 2012 at 9:08 AM

An excellent point, Heather. Most of them certainly pay lip service to Christ, but I wonder how willing they are to forgive others if they’ve committed a more evangelical error. How patient they are with evangelicals. It’s like they have to have a death grip on who’s REALLY serving Jesus while being “accessible” to the modern culture. Largely a form of idolatry, and little more than that.

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ginger November 5, 2012 at 7:46 PM

As a progressive Christian it is because of the comments I see and quotes I read that suggest the Christian right is not as Christlike as I believe we should all try to be. Thguilyye disgust I witness regarding helping the poor ot homeless or assisting the sick to live a healthier life is where I form my opinions. I understand that not all conservative Christians are as blind to the teachings of Christ as those who raise their voice the loudest as opposed to helping the least of these. But by standing with them and defending them others are considered guilty by association.

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Sundown November 5, 2012 at 7:23 PM

I take exception to your claim that critics of fundamentalism usually aren’t real Christians.

Oh wait does that make me…. hateful? Oh noes!

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Elizabeth Seckman November 5, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Loving you more with every post! Keep up the good work.

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Beth K. Vogt November 5, 2012 at 9:37 AM

I read the article by the UU minister … she was so politely intolerant, wasn’t she?

Keep posting, Mike.
I’ll keep reading.

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Caleb Breakey November 5, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Mike, this post hit me in the gut. I love Jesus and His Church so much … and to see this tears my soul to shreds. Lord Jesus, forgive us. Makes me desperate all the more to be a son wrapped up in my Father’s glory—not shooting spit wads at my brothers and sisters. Thank you, Brother.

Following Jesus Without Leaving the Church (Harvest House, 2013)

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Jim Williams November 5, 2012 at 10:29 AM

I dunno, Mike. It seems like your point here is to say “…if you don’t let me be a fountain of intolerance, then you are intolerant (of me) and that makes you a hypocrite.”
This seems like a circular argument and self-serving reasoning. Must a tolerant (Progressive Christian) person accept an intolerant “Fundie”? It seems like the author of the HuffPo piece has had enough.

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Mike Duran November 5, 2012 at 10:55 AM

“Must a tolerant (Progressive Christian) person accept an intolerant “Fundie”?”

Of course not. Then again, who’s to say what an “intolerant ‘Fundie’” is? Perhaps they are right to be intolerant about something. Which would mean the progressive’s tolerance could be wrong. Remember, it’s progressives who have framed themselves as the kumbaya crowd.

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Rebecca LuElla Miller November 5, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Hi, Jim. You make a good point. Isn’t there some point where we are to establish an authoritative right and wrong? But that’s precisely what the progressive Christians Mike is discussing say–progressives can, but those conservative Christians who draw lines, shouldn’t.

Others are rigid and exclusive

Yet in so saying, they themselves show they are just as rigid and exclusive. Their rigid lines, however, are drawn according to their own ideas of right and wrong, not what the Bible says, and their exclusion is of the very people who say God’s free gift, available to all, is the one thing we need to enjoy Him forever. They base their exclusion, apparently, on a reversal of what Jesus says about being the Way, Truth, Life.

Their authority, then, for their own rigidity and exclusiveness is what they think is right not what God says is true.

Becky

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Jim Williams November 5, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Becky, I think I understand your (and Mike’s) ultimate point. It is clear that the HuffPo writer was evidencing much of the same aggressive hostility that he supposedly despises. I have to say, however, that it might be that he was simply using hyperbolic terminology to make a point, much as Mike does often in this space. A well timed impolite word can wake the reader up. His point, (or maybe mine) however, is that many Fundamentalist Christian groups use their religion as a weapon against gays, minorities, soldiers, teachers, scientists. He feels that they are twisting the Word to suit their own prejudices. Is it ok to include seriously aggressive tactics when discussing the role of Jesus’s teachings in our society? Does that fit? Can I say “I’m a Christian, therefore hurting people (or attacking the President’s ancestry) is part of God’s plan..”?

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Bobby B November 5, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Jim, it’s very possible that the author was trying to prod rather than provoke, but I doubt it. I don’t get the sense he’s going for subtle wordplay so much as scathing sarcasm. My favorite part is how he admits he’s essentially a jerk and this somehow gives him permission to continue being a jerk.

Also, a lot of this comes down to “Who’s definition is it, anyway?” If a Christian says to a gay friend, “I don’t feel being gay is what God intends for you” some will say it’s the most hateful thing while another says it’s the most loving. This is the primary schism between Evangelicals (some would use the term “fundamentalist,” but I stay away from it since I’ve never met a single person in my life who claims to be a fundamentalist) and progressives. And it’ll only get wider, not because people aren’t willing to love, but because people’s minds and hearts are changing.

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Jim Williams November 5, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Bobby B, I don’t think anyone can call “I don’t feel that being gay is what God intends for you” hate speech. I think what Shore was deriding is telling your gay friend “God hates fags, so I know he hates YOU.” Evangelicals used to tell me that Mormons were cultists. What happened to that? White supremacists often use Christian arguments to defend their racism. It is these people that Shore is railing (in a juvenile fashion) against. Mike is completely correct to call our attention to the irony of using hate to fight hate. But let’s not close our eyes to the foundation of the argument. I hate the Westboro “cult”. What does that say about me?

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Bobby B November 5, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Jim, that may be how you feel, but I can guarantee you those words would very, very easily be labeled hate speech in some circles, even Christian ones. That’s why groups like Exodus are back-pedaling. The pressure’s building. I don’t doubt for a second that Evangelicals have said goofy things. Wrong things. Stupid things. There’s a quote: “The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips but live different lifestyles…” (I’m paraphrasing). And it’s true. So in a sense, yes, we’re the foundation of the problem, but what of Christians who are more interested in turning their guns on their own?

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Mike Duran November 5, 2012 at 2:02 PM

“…it might be that he was simply using hyperbolic terminology to make a point, much as Mike does often in this space.”

I don’t think I’ve ever called someone an “asshole” or a “dipshit” or said they believed ““horrendously toxic bullshit” just to be hyperbolic. C’mon, Jim. Methinks he meant to be crude and inflammatory.

“…many Fundamentalist Christian groups use their religion as a weapon against gays, minorities, soldiers, teachers, scientists.”

Disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle, political position, belief about the Universe, moral choices, or dress code does not mean someone uses their religion “like a weapon.” This is the Leftist language that all religious opposition to anything is hateful.

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Jim Williams November 5, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Mike, in regards to what you do here: No no no. Of course not. What I meant was that you will use strong language from time to time. I theorized that it is to “wake” the reader. Or to show that this is an adult thinkers blog. Or whatever. I thought maybe Shore was trying for that, but got caught up reveling in his profane snarkiness.

On the subject of fundamentalism, I am not sure I can agree. My experience is that some groups certainly do rely on their religious superiority to add weight to their desire to ostracize and degrade people. I gave examples. Mormons = Cult.

My sister is a converted Mormon, and my evangelical Christian friends (especially one’s Dad who upbraided me in the checkout line at K Mart one day when I was 13 years old) were clear to tell me that she would now burn in Hell for joining the cultists. Another took pleasure in telling me that since my sister was married in the “temple” it meant that she had actually taken satanic vows. He was completely serious. This is hate speech. It should be rejected by reasonable people.

I don’t think complaining “the left thinks everything is hate speech” means that there is no such thing as hate speech. It really exists. It really damages good people.

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Rebecca LuElla Miller November 5, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Jim, I think we are skirting the key issue. We all take a stand for what we think is right and wrong–progressives against evangelicals, evangelicals against cultists, and atheists against us all. The issue ought to be, what governs your decision to say this or that is right or wrong?

If we make up something because it’s what people around us are saying, it’s no better than a mob mentality. If enough people say we’re being hateful, does that prove we are?

One of my college roommates converted to Mormonism, was married in the temple, then realized (along with her husband) that she was in fact in a group that believed things opposed to the Bible. They left Mormonism and are outspoken evangelicals today.

I say this to point out that the story is still being written. But it’s not hateful to warn people that destruction awaits a particular path of behavior.

It’s like saying someone hates sex because they tell others the only sure way to prevent HIV/AIDS is monogamy or celibacy. Declaring them hateful is an erroneous conclusion based on a simple statement that certain behavior has a prescribed end.

The person who warns is not the hateful person. He isn’t causing the prescribed end–just stating it. Is a parent being hateful for telling a toddler that fire will burn him? Actually, no. He’s being loving.

But progressives, atheists don’t want to hear that Jesus is the Way, Truth, Life. They don’t like … what? The offer of life? The way of salvation? Assurance of truth?

Or is it that they don’t like the authority of God through His Word over their lives?

Becky

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Luther Wesley November 8, 2012 at 9:39 AM

Mormonism, just as a side note, is an anti-Christian cult.

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Hyhybt November 5, 2012 at 8:53 PM

“Disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle, political position, belief about the Universe, moral choices, or dress code does not mean someone uses their religion “like a weapon.” This is the Leftist language that all religious opposition to anything is hateful.”—No, it isn’t. Perhaps it’s unintentional, but your claim leaves out a vital fact: entirely too many people do use their beliefs as a weapon when on the offensive, then trivialize it as a mere difference of opinion when called on it. That doesn’t even *imply* that every disagreement is of that type.

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Eric November 5, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Thanks for this, Mike.

And yet, there is love in Christ’s heart for these hateful, ugly people (people like me).

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Jim Hamlett November 5, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Most of the definition of “intolerance” by either progressives or fundies (or those of us in between) lies in their own preferences, especially the “hot button” issues.

At some point, we are all intolerant to a certain degree. So is God, the most longsuffering and tolerant of all.

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Bobby B November 5, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Preaching to the choir here, Mike. Although you have articulated many thoughts I’ve had as a jumbled mess. You’re absolutely right. The rallying cry of progressives is their frustration (or open hatred) of Evangelicals. It honestly (in my mind) comes down to the reality that America has finally shaken off a Christian worldview. Christians are now being forced to choose. Whereas once you could fudge it, or hide it, or go along with it, or simply disappear in a sea of SOP Christians, now Jesus is separating the wheat from the chaff. The fire is getting hotter and we’re being asked if we’ll stand firm or jump out.

I’ve had to stop going to MPT’s website because what he does just infuriates me. Every once in a while he makes a good point, but his constant belittling of Evangelicals and his attitude in the comment sections of his blog entries (he dismisses those who disagree with him, along with the legion of commenters who agree with him) gets really old. Today, he put up a re-telling of the Christmas Story in manga style advertisement. I’m pretty sure it was put up so others could join him in mocking it.

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Mike Duran November 5, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Bobby, I’ve felt the same thing about MPT’s approach. It didn’t help that one time he blew in on my Facebook thread (we’d never corresponded before then, as I remember), stirred up disagreement, and just disappeared. Odd.

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Bobby B November 5, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Yip. One entry of his featured a church sign (he often posts those). Several commented that perhaps the church sign wasn’t that big of a deal and didn’t deserve the ridicule I have a feeling he was hoping it would receive. Instead of offering any form of retraction or even discussion, he commented that people needed to be able to take a joke.

At least he isn’t as brutally sarcastic and snide as Tony Jones.

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Yvonne Anderson November 5, 2012 at 12:28 PM

I see your point, Mike, and have observed some of the same things. But hey, that’s the way of the world. Jesus warned his disciples about it, and no sooner were the words out of his mouth than events proved him right. (What a surprise!)
So what do we do about it? We love them as he did and let them bury themselves in their own error. We’re not likely to change their minds by pointing out their inconsistencies, but we might change the minds of onlookers by responding to our attackers’ vitriol with love.

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John K. Patterson November 5, 2012 at 11:07 PM

Well said, Yvonne. I admire your attitude a great deal. May a loving response characterize all our actions and thoughts.

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D.M. Dutcher November 5, 2012 at 1:06 PM

With apologies to Jim, he’s not correct: many don’t use this as hyperbole, but actually feel this way about evangelicals. This is because they are often a completely separate culture and class from them, to the point of only interacting with them in comment boxes on the internet if that. This can also apply to atheists, and in reverse: many evangelicals easily can hold caricatures of unbelievers due to the fact that they have sheltered themselves from the wider culture to an alarming degree.

The rise of different cultures and camps adds an edge to this which makes me concerned. Especially when the Progressive Christian camp at times seems more an adjunct of a greater, secularist camp than an actual Christian tradition. In order for them to distinguish themselves, social justice and sort of a pietistic outlook on faith isn’t enough. Increasingly they seem to embrace secular norms as a self-definition, in order to fit into the culture where many of them primarily exist. To the point where as in Mike’s older blog post, they have problems saying positive things about their own faith.

It’s a rough thing. They are more worried about evangelicals when they should be worried about their absorption by the larger culture into a certain cultural camp. A question I think we should all ask ourselves is, if we became atheists, what would change about our views? I worry for many progressives that very little if nothing would.

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dj pomegranate November 5, 2012 at 8:58 PM

This sounds like you’ve never actually spoken to a Christian progressive.

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D.M. Dutcher November 5, 2012 at 10:04 PM

I’ve spoken to many of them, actually. Went to a college that could be considered it (was old evangelical mainline, Tony Campolo taught there,) and I live in the Northeast, progressive central. Seen and read plenty of their works on the net. Believe me, class issues play more of a part than you think.

G.K. Chesterton had a description of them before the fact in his book Manalive:

“On the top of all this comes Hawkins. If he had cursed all the Hoxton men,
excommunicated them, and told them they were going to hell, I should
have rather admired him. If he had ordered them all to be burned
in the market-place, I should still have had that patience that all
good Christians have with the wrongs inflicted on other people.
But there is no priestcraft about Hawkins–nor any other kind of craft.
He is as perfectly incapable of being a priest as he is of being a carpenter
or a cabman or a gardener or a plasterer. He is a perfect gentleman;
that is his complaint. He does not impose his creed, but simply his class.
He never said a word of religion in the whole of his damnable address.
He simply said all the things his brother, the major, would have said.
A voice from heaven assures me that he has a brother, and that this
brother is a major.”

G.K. being his usual over-the-top self, but look at all the replies here, and see how many fit into the latter part of that quote.

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Timothy Stone November 5, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Great piece Sir. I have long wondered how it is that the most close-minded folks in the world get away with lecturing others on open-mindedness. In answer to the gentleman’s comment, if it was a Christian conservative using such “hyprbole”, the Left would use them as an example of Christians that must be feared or controlled.

The fact is that someone’s sense of morality will ALWAYS be the determiner for how they view things. The difference between conservative Christians and atheists/Progressive Christians, is that conservative Christians base their absolutes on a standard that we by faith believe to be God’s word, and that we want to reach folks through persuasion and showing the love of Christ for sinners; while the atheists/Progressive Christians base their absolutes on emotion/hate for standards and ridicule or in some cases call for regulation of Christianity and religion as in some European countries and parts of Canada.

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Katherine Coble November 5, 2012 at 1:31 PM

I’d really prefer of everyone stopped Othering people.

We are all individuals. We will agree on some things but not on others.

I have Christians I agree with and Christians I disagree with.

The Othering is a device of Satan to keep us separated into squabbling factions.

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Joel Q November 5, 2012 at 2:05 PM

The more progressives can push and widen society’s view of the “gray areas” the more they can call conservative Christians intolerant and other choice words.

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Jill November 5, 2012 at 2:19 PM

The problem, of course, is that people are basically idiots. Sometimes they’re capable of rational arguments, and occasionally, genius ideas, but certainly not when in reactionary mode. This idiocy applies to all people, fundies and their naysayers included. It especially applies to people who believe in a rigid set of black and white truths, which, of course, they have exactly correct, either through “proper” biblical interpretation or scientific interpretation or whatever, while those other people out there just get it wrong. When one group questions the rigidity of the other group’s truth system because their own rigid truth system comes to different conclusions, reactionary fighting occurs. That’s tribalism at work, as well as a basic defense against cognitive dissonance.

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Jenni Noordhoek November 5, 2012 at 2:27 PM

You know, I see this exact same attitude as described from both the extreme right and extreme left of the Church. (Only the conservatives tend not to use as strong of language as it’s not allowed) I don’t see why we have to pick on one side or the other. =P

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R. L. Copple November 5, 2012 at 4:16 PM

This is an example of the same dynamic that happens in the political sphere. Take the most extreme and radical members of a group, and attempt to paint the whole demographic as believing and acting with those values. Some on our side do it to them, and they do it to us. When the reality is the bell curve for evangelicals, progressive Christians, conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat, or (insert your favorite group) is miles away from those fringe beliefs.

The big problem when someone does this to the other side, they by default align themselves with the most radical groups in their own “camp.” Because it tends to be the more radical of members that demonstrate this type of irrational hate of the other side, and believe any difference of opinion or interpretation is hate.

In effect, it is easy pickin’s to belittle and bedevil a caricature of any group. Much harder work to get to know them, understand their perspective, and come to appreciate whatever value they offer, so as to have a more well-rounded and informed understanding of your own values.

And people don’t understand what tolerance really means, as Jesus practiced it. Tolerance isn’t agreeing with everyone. It is tolerating people who don’t agree with you. IOW, it is tolerating people, not positions/beliefs. And loving them for who they are in the hopes of enabling them to become more of who they are meant to be.

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Barb Riley November 6, 2012 at 6:46 AM

My goodness, this is an excellent, excellent comment! Your last two paragraphs should be required reading for every theologian, Christian, etc.

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Kessie November 5, 2012 at 5:38 PM

All this talk of tolerance reminds me of that Dorothy Sayers quote:

“In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”

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Heather Day Gilbert November 5, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Kessie, I love this quote. If you can’t die for something, you don’t really believe in it.

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dj pomegranate November 5, 2012 at 8:49 PM

This seems like a false dichotomy. I certainly can tolerate something while believing something else–the two are not mutually exclusive.

In other words, I might truly believe that Jesus is the way, truth, and life while still tolerating someone else’s choice to be, say, a Muslim or a Hindu. I might really, really, really hate brussels sprouts but tolerate my husband’s desire to eat them every supper. Does me tolerating other people’s valid life choices mean that I am believing nothing, caring for nothing, etc? In my mind, it means quite the opposite: my tolerance shows that I believe that the other person (the person I am tolerating) is created in the image of God and I should give them the benefit of the doubt as a fellow human that they are making the best choices they can.

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Cherie Clayton November 5, 2012 at 5:56 PM

This is the one thing I know…John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Christ has called us to love others the way HE has loved us. Not love the way WE feel comfortable to love. In my opinion, when we shun those who make us feel uncomfortable, it’s usually not because we have such hate for the sin. Often times it’s because we recognize a brokenness in ourselves that we can’t fix the other person. Since, in essence we have no answer to their “problem” or “sin” we give them “sin”. We mask our own insecurities with hate, discrimination, and such acts of “righteousness”. If we, as Christians, would focus more on the person (the real essence of who that person is) and love them the way Christ loved us in our own mess….then I think those that find Christians to be “assholes”, “dipshits”, and those who believe “horrendously toxic bullshit.”, would really see who Christ is.

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