When non-Christians are asked to describe the typical Christian, words like smug, homophobic, judgemental, hypocritical and closed-minded are often the first things that come to mind. According to atheist-turned-Christian Brad White, there's a good reason for these adjectives: too many Christians really do fit these descriptions. So Brad founded Changing the Face of Christianity, an organization devoted to educating Christians about negative Christian stereotypes and why they're true.
Christian hostility is no surprise to non-theists. We've experienced the aggressive intolerance of our non-belief first hand. But even Christians are often embarrassed by their brethren. Many Christians forget even the most basic lessons of Jesus:
- Judge not, lest you be judged
- The meek shall inherit the Earth
- The peacemakers will be the children of God
- You are not your brother's keeper
But before I had a chance to check Brad's web site, Hemant Mehta over at FriendlyAtheist.com did a rather harsh critique of Brad. Since Hemant prides himself on tolerance – the name Friendly Atheist is really true – I was rather surprised. I decided to check for myself.
It's worse than Hemant says. Just about every article on Brad's site is condescending and, yes, judgmental and hypocritical. Here are a few choice samples.
On homosexuality: "Homosexuality is a sin (It is a sin, just like many other sins heterosexual sinners commit everyday, but we are not allowed to say it.)"
In other words, God says you're a sinner, but we'll put up with you and feel sorry for you and treat you with respect, like we would any defective person.
On Atheism: "How questions were answered, in many ways, increased their superficiality and led to their lack of belief. ... Here is another quote from a conversation I had with another Atheist: 'When I was 12, the nun who was my teacher grabbed me and shook me while telling me I would go to hell if I didn’t stop making trouble by asking questions in catechism class.' The result is skepticism and disbelief…superficial faith. The result, more often than not, is a lost soul."
In other words, it's the Christian's fault that led to a lack of faith. The atheist's inquisitive mind, intellectual investigations and rational conclusions are unimportant.
On hypocrisy. "However, the reason why hypocrisy is an issue in the Christian church is because we’re the ones preaching about living a more holy or pure lifestyle. You don’t hear many agnostics or atheists telling other people how to live."
In other words, atheists have no morals, so they can't be accused of hypocrisy! (I find this one to be particularly disgusting. The facts are so against Brad on this one.)
On cursing. "Whereas in evolved cultures and societies common decency in communication is a virtue, the opposite is often true when talking with the other side ... You [Christians] are not allowed to be offended. Only they can be offended by your desire to be civil."
In other words, atheists are often rude and foul-mouthed.
I really admire Brad's motivation. Christians don't realize just how they come across to the average non-theist or to people of other faiths. I applaud Brad's motives, but his web site falls flat.
Brad has fallen victim to the very deepest belief of Christianity: "We're right and you're wrong." There is no room in Christianity for doubt. Brad has taken on the "big three" memes of Christianity:
- Monotheism: there is only one god, Yahweh, and all others are false.
- Intolerance: I'm right, you're wrong. There is no room for debate.
- Godly-origin-of-morals: Only Yahweh can say if something is right or wrong.