Are we getting angrier and more hateful? Or have we always been the same? See what you think about these three examples .....
Christians are supposed to be following a religion of love and forgiveness, but sometimes they seem to forget this. One example of this is the homophobic behaviour of some American Christians. It seems that some US Christians' hatred of gays over-rides Jesus' teaching on loving even your enemies.
Some years ago, I saw (I think on a Michael Moore TV show) a funeral of a gay man who had died of AIDS. Standing across the road was a pack of Christians with signs saying hateful (and I believe inaccurate) things like "God hates faggots" and "AIDS cures homosexuality". It made me feel angry and disgusted at the insensitivity and the distortion of Jesus' teachings.
Just last week, I saw something almost as bad - a young Christian girl responding to actor Heath Ledger's death by arguing he was in hell because he played a gay man in the film "Brokeback Mountain".
Regardless of whether we think homosexual behaviour is acceptable to God or not, it seems these people have missed the point, and their actions are promoting hatred rather than God's good news.
Militant atheism has become more prominent in recent years, possibly partly in reaction to the Christian hatred reported above. But unfortunately it too has led to a rise of intolerance and even hatred.
Go to an atheist website or read the posts on an atheist forum, and you may find a lot that is unattractive and even nasty. Christians are "delusional" to hold the beliefs they do and they use no logic, so rude and confrontational behaviour is justified against them. Try to mount a logical argument against these views and you'll likely find your argument dismissed in derogatory terms, with very little logic and evidence. Their view appears to have become as much an item of blind faith as the religious views they are reacting against.
Some enthusiasts seem to be itching to go further. Here are a few quotes:
- "I feel that derision is a more powerful rhetorical technique than simple confrontation."
- "religion is an intellectual desease [sic] and we must find a cure"
- "Treat their ideas with respect and they might mistake your actions for a belief that they have any merit whatsoever. I see no reason even to give them that much. These people need to be educated and cured of their delusions, not pandered to...... I have no time for this wishy-washy nonsense."
- "I'm not a mental health professional. Though I might think theists of most stripes could do with seeing one."
- "To call holders of such beliefs delusional is to be unnecessarily kind."
- "Do you really not see how desperate your position is. You don't want to appear delusional by admitting you believe in talking snakes, but you know in your heart you are. I don't think you are capable of being honest with yourself"
Ann Coulter is an American political commentator. I'd never heard of her before, but apparently she is famous, or perhaps notorious. She says she likes to "stir up the pot", but some of her reported comments seem nastier than that. For example:
- she called the Democratic party "the spawns of Satan"
- she said of Democrat candidate John Edwards: "you have to go into rehab if you use the word "faggot" so I'm - kind of at an impasse..."
- and she said of four women whose husbands died in the World Trade Centre attacks: "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much"
Of course, these days, getting noticed by being controversial is the strategy of some media people, but I don't believe that justifies such language.
So is it just me, or are we enjoying tearing apart people we disagree with these days? Is hate too strong a word? It seems that we are seeing things in black and white, them and us, the goodies and the baddies. It makes it easier to justify our position if we can demonise our opponents and make them out to be almost inhuman. And that approach has led to some terrible things in the past.
I think it is important to make a deliberate stand against all this.