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I think that, at some point, the best recourse is just to start using the word "Christian" to refer to people who actually display characteristics of a good Christian, i.e. honesty, humility, compassion, fraternity, etc., and to find another term for freaks like Robertson et al. Sullivan goes for Christianist, which isn't bad. My point is that these people shouldn't be attacked by attacking Christianity, they should be attacked because they're lying, hypocritical, awful bigoted fundamentalists.

Posted by Gabriel | January 4, 2007 7:45 AM

Wise words, gabriel.

Posted by roots | January 4, 2007 8:29 AM


Psychopathic liars like Falwell, Robertson, Pope Benedict et al have defined Christianity today and claim to speak for all of the followers of the religion. Words like honesty, humility, and compassion have no meaning for them, and there are no nationally known moderate or liberal Christian leaders because ideas about actually living Christ’s teachings of love, charity and tolerance are wildly unpopular.

Instead, Christianity is now a twisted, hateful, right-wing ideology of oppression… and the band plays on.

“If we believe absurdities, we will commit atrocities.”

Posted by Original Andrew | January 4, 2007 8:49 AM

Andrew, the comments in your first paragraph are exactly my point. They claim to speak for Christians, and the media treat them as if they are the face of Christianity, and moderate Christian leaders get little publicity. Why is Robertson always invited on the talking head shows and not, say, Jim Wallis? People need to stop treating them as the voice of Christian thought in America.

Your second paragraph is dead wrong. There is a vile strain of Christianity, indeed, but there are caring, thoughtful moderate and progressive Christians out there - millions of them.

Posted by Gabriel | January 4, 2007 8:58 AM

Gabriel, we get the point, but the reality is those "caring, thoughtful, moderate and progressive Christians out there" don't ever seem to do much in the way of condemning either the words or the actions of Robertson, Falwell, Haggard, Armstrong, Driscoll, et al.

Until more of you stand up and start openly, vocally criticizing the "unChristian behavior" of your fellow Christians, us non-believers don't really have much option but to equate your silence with consent of their actions.

Posted by COMTE | January 4, 2007 9:09 AM


Sure they do - moderate and progressive Christians condemn the actions and rhetoric of fundies, it just doesn't get a lot of play.

Second, your comment of "until more of you stand up..." is presumptuous.

Anyway, keep your ears and eyes open and you'll come across moderate Christians. Try Jim Wallis's book "God's Politics" for a start.

Posted by Gabriel | January 4, 2007 9:22 AM

Please refrain from using-wait for it-wait for it!

I don't understand this phrase at all and I've only seen it in the SLOG. It seems to be in at least 60% of the posts. It feels awkward and forced.

Posted by I'm waiting for it to stop | January 4, 2007 9:34 AM

We'll stop referring to douchebags like Robertson, Armstrong, Haggard, et al. as if they represented the thoughts of all Christians the minute Christians start stepping up and denouncing them. Haven't heard them do that much. Even my nutjob fundie relatives, who admit that Evangelicalism has a "leadership problem" refuse to divorce themselves from this scum until they get caught in more obvious crimes.

I think, in contrast, that there is a direct relationship between gay-hating, women-hating, retrograde fundamentalism and crimes of sex and money. These people and their followers are morally damaged to the core, but mainstream non-evil Christians seem to be very content to let them speak, until the day they get picked off one-by-one.

Posted by Fnarf | January 4, 2007 9:49 AM

I agree with Fnarf and Comte—about the only time we hear mewls of protest from moderate Christians is when they're whining about being lumped in with the Discrolls and Popes and Falwells.

You want publicity, Mod Christians? Show up, en masse, and one of Driscoll's services. Then turn stand and turn your backs on him when he starts in on women or gays. Or go to Rome and nail a manifesto to the door of St. Peter's. Or go to Liberty University and set yourselves on fire. Or something.

If you're pissed about being lumped in with those guys, take it to those guys. Be mad at them. They've ruined the good name of your religion -- so let them have it. If you can't or won't do that (well, you don't have to set yourselves on fire), have the decency to keep your "Shut 99% of the Time" mouths shut 100% of the time.

P.S. My mom is a Christian and I love her to pieces.

Posted by Dan Savage | January 4, 2007 9:57 AM

A few that come to mind: Andrew Sullivan, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren. Loads more. The fact that they're not more well-known (with the exception of Sullivan, I suppose) is the interesting thing, and gives me some sympathy to your view. It does indeed seem, based on what you read and see, that Christians are a warped bunch.

Posted by Gabriel | January 4, 2007 10:13 AM

One problem with the whole "...until moderate and progressive Christians take a stand..." approach:

Moderate and progressive Christians usually aren't interested in the evangelical insistence that others believe as they do. Most of them are content in their faith and content to let others do as they will. The command to "judge not" and to "love" sits at the core of their moderate, progressive Christianity.

Typically you won't hear much from them because their faith is private, and they prize humility, compassion, forgiveness -- you know, all that "Christian" stuff, but only for real. Maybe they're too busy building hospitals to worry about what atheists think of their faith on the world stage.

Fundamentalism is the enemy of reason, no matter which religious or secular banner it flies.

Posted by David Summerlin | January 4, 2007 10:22 AM

Here in Colorado Springs it's REALLY hard to separate the fundies from the Christians, and many formerly reasonable Christians got caught up in the wave of fundamentalism that swept the lands post-9/11. I think many turned to the bigoted versions of the gospel being spewed by Dobson and Haggard because, like any flock of followers, it's what all the other sheep were doing. And here in CS, it's a lot of fucking sheep. Now I think many of those who were just keeping up with the herd are being forced to consider their actual values, and hopefully more Andrew Sullivans and Jim Whites will give them better ideas for who to follow.

Posted by Noel Black | January 4, 2007 10:24 AM

Noel Black,

You should get a medal for living in Colorado Springs and remaining sane.

Stay strong.

Posted by Original Andrew | January 4, 2007 10:33 AM

The reason we don't hear from moderate christians is because the media has nothing to gain from highlighting the voices of reason and tolerance. That doens't sell papers or get the ratings or start the talking heads a'chattering. Kooks like Falwell, Robertson, et al are trotted out because they make good spectacle and can be relied on to get people upset - and that makes money. A reasonable discussion on tolerance and the theological underpinnings for it from liberal christians? Who's gonna tune in for that?

Posted by john | January 4, 2007 10:57 AM

I have to agree with Karl Marx, "Religion is the opium of the people" And just think about religion in general. Any form of religious belief has at it's basic level an innate intolerance of other belief systems or even differing ideas about itself. Once differences are allowed then the infalability of such a belief structure is demostrated. How can you have differing views on Christianity when logic demands that only one version be the correct version of the truth. Religion pushes people into a mold of absolutism (no matter how benevolant it may seem) that it can not evolve from.

The moderate Christians (to make their arguments) must argue for a change in previous belief structures with in Christianity. This is abhorrent to a system rooted in absolutism that is based on a god that is unchanging. Therefore the two can not exist together.

And that is why I am an atheist.

Posted by Andrew | January 4, 2007 11:01 AM

Good points, David. Another related thing about "until moderate and progressive Christians take a stand...". It's exactly the same as that favorite challenge put forth by right-wingers, that a Muslim is always under suspicion until he or she vocally takes a stand against Islamic fundamentalists. I think that placing a cloud of suspicion over anyone who is religious is a pretty scary mindset in and of itself, and demanding someone to "prove to me" is insulting and strangely self-centered to boot.

Posted by Gabriel | January 4, 2007 11:01 AM

Opps I have an error in my post above. It should read "Once differences are allowed then the infalability of such a belief structure is destroyed"

Sorry about that

Posted by Andrew | January 4, 2007 11:05 AM

But, Gabriel that's EXACTLY what Christians do ALL THE TIME vis-a-vis "prove to me God DOESN'T exist", and other rhetorical nonsense. You can't have the cake and eat it too.

We KNOW not ALL Christians are batshit-crazy (at least no more so than anyone whose life is centered on believing in something that has never been proven to exist), just as we KNOW not ALL muslims are bomb-wearing martyrs-in-making, or just as we KNOW not ALL Republicans are jingoistic, abortion-hating misogynists, but if someone (such as yourself for example) wants to NOT be lumped in with the crazies, you have to separate yourself from them somehow, because otherwise, how are the rest of us supposed to be able to tell the difference?

And please remember, it wasn't US who gave you Christians a bad name...

Posted by COMTE | January 4, 2007 11:16 AM

Comte, not sure where you were going with all that, but you do have a strange "you versus us" attitude in your posts. You presume to know a lot about me and how I identify myself.

Posted by Gabriel | January 4, 2007 11:26 AM

Hey Andrew,

As one atheist to another, you might be interested in reading Marcus Borg's _The Heart of Christianity_. It turns out there's actually been a lot of progressive, rational thinking about theology in some Christian churches. I was impressed. Not enough to, you know, convert, but at least now I can see how the religiously-minded may not actually be brain-dead idiots.


Indigo S.

Posted by Indigo Starblaster | January 4, 2007 11:45 AM

Chris, your two statements:

"We KNOW not ALL Christians are batshit-crazy" ...and...

"but if someone...wants to NOT be lumped in with the crazies, you have to separate yourself from them somehow"

...seem amusingly contradictory. Either you lump them all together or you don't.

But either way, it would be reasonable for a moderate, progressive Christian to conclude that you are doing the lumping, not them.

Just for fun, substitute a popular racist perspective, wherein the racist demands that person of race/ethnicity X somehow disavow all relation to the rest of those {lazy, greedy, parasitic} persons of race/ethnicity X.

From your perspective, perhaps the comparison is bogus, because after all, fundamentalist, political Christians are, in fact, batshit crazy.

From the perspective of the moderate, progressive Christian, your lumping activities are your own failing, not theirs.

Just as I am not responsible for whatever fundamentalist Christians choose to believe about me, the M., P. Christians are not responsible for whatever crass generalizations seem sound and reasonable to you.

Posted by David Summerlin | January 4, 2007 11:58 AM

You know, it's getting the point where I almost pity the fundies. One leader after another just keeps getting outed as some sort of hypocrite. Of course, then I come to my senses and my scorn and schadenfreude return.

Posted by Gitai | January 4, 2007 12:36 PM


Well, it's all really a matter of degree isn't it? Christians, like other human beings, can range the entire spectrum from sane to a little off to crazy to BATSHIT-CRAZY, and frequently there seems to be very little obvious indication as to where a particular believer may fall in that range. For me, the very fact that a person believes in an omniscient, omnipotent, eternal and ever-lasting Godhead who looks, talks and dresses just like a human being, who is obsessively interested in even the most minute detail of ones life, to the point of creating a set of more-or-less arbitrary rules of conduct, and who will mete out equally random punishments or reward for obeying (or not) these rules, but who is nevertheless responsible for creating Life, The Universe And Everything, Forever, automatically makes their rationality a little suspect in my book to begin with.

As the Older Generation used to say back when I was a kid: "if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem." Christians who are well-meaning, progressive, and moderate, yet who remain silent while other Christians spew hate against their fellow human beings are not, IMO, helping to make things better, regardless of their otherwise good works.

And I'm sure all those batshit-crazy fundies out there, the ones we all seem to agree are the REAL threat, would use exactly the same argument in their own defense: that it's not THEY who are evil, intolerant, racist, bigoted, etc., etc., they're just performing "God's Will", doing "good" as they see it, and are being unfairly singled out for rebuke, while in reality (theirs) it's the rest of us who don't tread exactly the same path they do who represent the "true evil". If otherwise tolerant/moderate Christians don't want to be "lumped" in with that particular group, they really need to do more than stand on the sidelines and quietly tut-tut that their intentions or motivations are being misunderstood by the rest of us. If they're not up to that challenge, then that is indeed THEIR problem, not mine.

What you seem to be asking is that I give ALL Christians the benefit of the doubt, until they do or say something that reveals their true colors; basically to treat them according to The Golden Rule. I prefer however, to operate under what the Late Carl Sagan termed, "the tit-for-tat rule", basically to cooperate with others, THEN do unto them as they do unto me. Given the dangerous levels of intolerance and hate expoused and practiced by many Christians, against me as a non-believer, and against my friends, family and colleagues who likewise do not suscribe to their narrow world-view and moral absolutism, it therefore seems much more prudent on my part to treat them as I would a snake, and for safety's sake ASSUME (even though I know all about the ASS-You-and-ME caveat) they're poisonous, until such time as they prove to be otherwise.

Posted by COMTE | January 4, 2007 1:37 PM

'it therefore seems much more prudent on my part to treat them as i would a snake ans for safety's sake aasume... they're poisonous, until such time as they prove to be otherwise'
sounds like malcolm in regard to whites

Posted by somebody do sumthin else | January 4, 2007 2:07 PM

How many wars have been started by atheists and how many have been started by those who believe in god? Just curious....

Posted by Andrew | January 4, 2007 2:14 PM

How many wars have been started by atheists and how many have been started by those who believe in god for god? Just curious....

Posted by Andrew | January 4, 2007 2:15 PM

--"What you seem to be asking is that I give ALL Christians the benefit of the doubt..."

Actually the approach I would advocate, and which you have no obligation to adopt, is to give every individual the "benefit of the doubt" as it were.

I try, and often fail, to be conscious of the generalizations I have internalized, as they have never served me well in any practical capacity.

--"The Golden Rule...the tit-for-tat rule"

Neither one seems exclusive to the first proposition as to whether an individual should be prejudged based on a particular group affiliation.

I propose that generalizations tend to work proportionally to the homogeneity of the group under scrutiny, and are therefore only useful as a social bludgeon.

Maybe they have served you better than they have me.

Posted by David Summerlin | January 4, 2007 2:16 PM

Andrew, you can count every war started by Stalin, Mao, or Kim. That's a whole lot of dead people.

Posted by Gitai | January 4, 2007 8:21 PM

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