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5/26/2003                                                                                       View Comments

ON COPING WITH CHRISTIANS

cope: deal effectively or contend with - The New Little Oxford Dictionary

There are Christians who will kill you if you don't agree with their understanding of the will of god. There is nothing new about this. Other Christians think these Christians are nuts who do not understand the Christian religion. The kill your neighbor Christians are more dangerous than the love your neighbor Christians. There are hundreds of groups, with wildly different beliefs and ends, all calling themselves Christians. The disagreements among these heterogeneous believers over correct interpretations of the supernatural makes coping with them confusing.

In general, Christians share a superstition, believed on faith not evidence (if it could be proved, there would be no need for faith), that human life will continue after death, with rewards from the deity for believers who believe that some twenty centuries ago the son of god (the Christ) came back to life after dying for their sins. The Christ went to heaven to be with god. People who die accepting this get to join him. The bible is the sacred text, the word of god.

A growing number of Christians treasonably want to establish their version of Christianity as the law of the United States, replacing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that guarantee Americans freedom from having to follow somebody else's religion. These fanatics think the bible infallibly prohibits abortion, disproves evolution, regulates sexuality, and gives them the authority from god to tell everyone else what they can do, see, read or think. Government by bible is a scary idea. A literal belief in the bible mandates that people be stoned to death if they don't follow the religious rules, including rules prohibiting criticizing anything about the religion. The bible also approves of slavery, and encourages the beating of children and the subjugating of women. It presents a violent, vain, bloodthirsty god who continually changes the rules, punishes people for the sins of their ancestors, and has never heard of computers or democracy. Christians who believe the bible teaches a god of love, mercy and tolerance and who understand that religion can only flourish when there is no official religion are baffled by the fanatics. They had better be afraid--very afraid--they might be stoned for blasphemy along with those secular humanists. The coming civil war over religious freedom will make strange bedfellows indeed. The fundangelicals are at one with that Pope, Islamic fanatics, and the teachings of Hitler on prohibiting reproductive freedom. More reasonable Christians may join nonbelievers in defending the wall of separation between church and state that gives democracy its vitality.

Christians whose religious addiction has not become terminal can be shown that democracy and fundamentalist Christianity are incompatible. They must choose, in the coming civil war, if they are going to be patriotic Americans and support the cause of constitutional democracy that gives religious freedom to all, or if they will permit themselves to be controlled by a world view that rejects evolution and progress for the beliefs of prescientific Bronze Age nomadic tribes.

Neurotics build castles in the air--psychotics move in. Even paranoids can have real enemies, and it is not unreasonable to observe that Christians who take the bible as an absolute guide to faith and practice and believe it is god's will that America be made into their idea of a Christian nation are capable of starting a civil war to further these ends. They are already organizing a "militia" to defend their beliefs against godless humanism in schools, hospitals, libraries, and government. Believers are taught what firearms and ammunition are best suited for winning America for Christ. These people are serious and will not stop. Proof of their intent is readily available in their literature and in their rantings on your local fundamentalist radio talk show. Further proof is seen on the national news as religious crazies commit acts of terrorism--bombing clinics, killing doctors, burning books and generally threatening and intimidating anyone who doesn't consent to being governed by their superstitions. And their leaders urge them on, preaching encouragement to those who know god wants them to kill those who dare follow a different drummer.

Coping with Christians demands different techniques depending on the degree of progression of the individual believer's addiction. Coping with the lunatics may be a matter of pure survival and armed resistance if the rule of law fails to contain them. This would be pure civil war, a repeat of the dark histories of religious wars that the United States was established to avoid. Coping with more rational Christians involves understanding that while they do not want to hurt you, they do believe that they are going to heaven and that you are going to hell. This may limit dialogue.

The majority of Christians (you'd better hope) are decent caring folk of the live let live variety. They want what nonbelievers want: peace, happiness, meaningful relationships, expansion of knowledge, freedom from fear and hunger and the right to do their thing while permitting their neighbors to do theirs. These Christians generally have only a limited knowledge of the bible (the feel good parts) and would be horrified at some of the brutalities it advocates and the absurd contradictions they would have to accept if they were to become true bible believing Christians. These cafeteria Christians take what they like and ignore the rest. Nor do they fully understand what is at stake when fanatics want our country to have an official religion. These folks have accepted the faith of their fathers without critical inquiry; they see it as the basis of morality, community, and social order. Some spend their lives in a childlike faith (recommended by the Christ) and mythical fantasy world that prevents them from becoming self actualizing adults. This is why some Christians grow old without growing up.

So coping with Christians requires strategies ranging from tolerant acceptance and cooperation to self defense. The human race is constantly evolving and may eventually learn we can get along without a need for belief in the supernatural. But for many people that time is not now and should never come.

Religion is not the answer--it is the problem. Everything considered, we would be better off without it.

written by Ed Kagin

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