By Libby Lawrence Nov. 17, 2020
As I have mentioned in another blog, I grew up Pentecostal. My Mother had the Christian radio station playing all day, every day. Billy Graham of course, J. Vernon McGee, Jack Van Impe, Jim and Tammy Bakker, Charles Halff, John Hagee, Billy James Hargis, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, Charles Swindoll, and many, many more.
Many of these were ranting and raving about evil. About Communists, Atheists, Homosexuals, non-Christians, Demon Scientists and Evolution, witchcraft, demons, rock music, profanity, people who don’t read the Bible every day, – nearly everything made the list. Imagine being in your late teens, gay, listening to an anti-gay rant by a preacher, and hearing your Mother say “All those filthy homosexual monsters need to be lined up against a wall and shot!” Yeah. That was fun.
I’m no stranger to Christian Hate. There is a lot of it out there. Forget loving your neighbor, turning the other cheek, forgiving 70 x 7, the Good Samaritan, and all of that nonsense. A lot of modern Christians preach that stuff until they see something they don’t like, or someone dares to disagree with them. Then it’s scorched earth policy all the way. DESTROY. The non-believer (whatever is the outrage du jour) needs to die.
Trump’s Followers seem to have embraced this mindset with a vengeance. All non-xtians and all Democrats (!) are the ENEMY. As Jeffrey Denny says in his blog, one of his Republican Facebook friends found out he was a Democrat, and gave him a list of all of the things HE hates: “America, the flag, patriotism and our heritage; Jesus, Christian God and the Bible; traditional family and family values; capitalism and free enterprise; the Constitution, especially freedom of speech and gun rights; law and order; Blue Lives, White Lives and All Lives; decent, hardworking Americans; straight white men like me; and above all, the real truth. College cooked my brain into tapioca, allowing evil fascist leftist professors to indoctrinate me into their hateful liberalism.” https://jeffreydenny77.medium.com/why-do-trumpers-hate-most-americans-9c6f8a4e9e9e
White Supremacists and Militia Groups are also almost entirely Christian. Daryl Johnson published a great article on the subject here: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2018/holy-hate-far-right%E2%80%99s-radicalization-religion There’s a huge theme in all of this: “My Values need to rule America. My values are God-Given. Natural order must be preserved. (White Supremacy, Patriarchy, Class Division, etc.) Government laws aren’t real unless they fit my theology.”
Now I’m just going to put personal opinion out there – this is from experience and observation, but not much research. (yet) Why are so many Christians so violent and hateful? Well, for one thing, Christianity is a Tribal Construct. And tribalism can be defined as safety within one’s group, with any threat coming from outside the group. Trump supporters, White Supremacists, Proud Boys, and many churches fall into that definition. Within your group, group values are RIGHT. Anything that challenges those values is EVIL.
Christianity is Punitive. Elicka Peterson-Sparks makes this point clear in her book, “The Devil You Know: The Surprising Link between Conservative Christianity and Crime”. https://www.amazon.com/Devil-You-Know-Conservative-Christianity/dp/1633881504 (ooh, read what the great John W. Loftus wrote in his review.) It’s a really good book. Go buy a copy! Too bad most xtians would burn it on sight.
(Sparks, 2016, pp 94-96).
But yes seriously – any religion that preaches eternal punishment burning in hell is punitive. And think about that Noah’s Flood Story, the story of Sodom, and some other Bible stories for just a second. Humanity was evil. Drown them. Burn them. Evil needs to be destroyed. It really boils down to that.
Christianity is Focused on the Afterlife. Christianity is generally not focused upon day-to-day existence unless the objective is to gain political power and force society to submit to Biblical authority. The sole focus of Fundamentalist Christian Life is to gain access to heaven. Even acts of charity tend to be focused on conversion of non-believers, thus gaining new members for their church. Many churches describe charity missions as “earning crowns for Heaven” – the point is not giving aid to one who is needy, but in elevating the necro-destination status of the believer. And when it comes to the insular churches who see themselves as surrounded by evil, (like the ones I attended as a child), that have completely abandoned contact with the sinful world, the only people they help are fellow church members. Don’t sin-stain yourself by having contact with non-Christians! (I . . . don’t think . . . that’s what Jesus would have wanted, actually . . . ) The focus on the afterlife not only diminishes their enjoyment of daily life, but creates a supreme selfishness that turns the needy into tools to elevate themselves in the eyes of their fellow church members and god.
Christianity is Egotistical. It is rooted in a sense of superiority, a sense of being RIGHT and of being a member of a Chosen Few, of being Better Than ___________. They lean on the Bible (which was written by G*d himself and is obviously the ultimate authority on the planet) as their weapon and means of controlling others.
There are still places in America where nobody would dare openly disagree with a Bible passage.
Anyone listening to Church Hymns and Choir Anthems will hear a theme running through many of them: I’m going to sit at the Heavenly Table, God has made a place for us, God guides us, God blesses us, God protects us, God will Heal Us, God gives us strength. We praise Him for all He gives. I have been playing for churches for most of my life. I can only think of one Choir Anthem that asks God to help us care for others.
Me, me, me. God loves me and not you. It reminds me of an old hymn:
THE BELLS OF HELL
The bells of hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
For you and not for me;
For me the angels sing-a-ling-a-ling
Death has no threats for me.
Oh death where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling
Oh grave, thy victory?
The bells of hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
For you and not for me.
This egotistical mindset is another piece of the tribal identity that helps xtians de-humanize non-xtians as other.
There are good Christians out there. They exist. I know a few. I love John Shelby Spong and John Pavlovitz. Pavlovitz, in my humble opinion, embodies what Christianity COULD be: loving, caring, forgiving, non-judgmental. What I have mostly encountered, however, are xtians that consider non-xtians inferior and misguided at best, and evildoers needing to be destroyed at worst. I don’t think Jesus would approve of that mindset.