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1/18/2010                                                                                       View Comments

Whose Red Herring?

By ExFundie

Nimbuzz Red Herring Global 100 WinnerImage by Nimbuzz via Flickr

Having lived as an ex-Christian for awhile now one of the things I have found fascinating is being able to see Christianity from the other side. Christians have a hard time understanding why the opinions most non-Christians have of them range from amusement to downright anger. Looking at it from the other side I can now understand it. It's been rather amazing. Perhaps the most interesting part of this observation though is to see the different ways that christians have learned to rationalize the fact that those outside the church most often state that christians are the reason they have no desire to become one.

I had a discussion with a Christian friend not too long ago about this very topic. He told me that the "I don't like christians" excuse is little more than a red herring. Even though I was thoroughly indoctrinated into that school of thought at one time I asked him to explain what he meant. Below is a recounting of what he said. The quote won't be verbatim, but it will remain true enough to convey his meaning.

"The claim of not liking christians is merely a lie used to distract from the real truth. The real truth could be one of a variety of things. They won't admit to any of the real truths because a truthful answer would make them look small and immoral.

1. Some people are just looking to take the easy way out. Following God takes work. It can be a real sacrifice. Some people are merely too lazy or selfish to work or make a sacrifice.

2. Some people just don't want to live a moral life. They would rather go on being immoral and doing wrong and they know that if they become a Christian they can't do that.

3. They just want to point fingers at every perceived wrong they see in christians because it's an easy way to convince themselves they don't need god since christians are no better than they are.

4. The whole argument completely avoids the most important thing. It is the spirit of god that does the convicting. If I tell someone the message of Christ the spirit will convict them of the truth. If they choose to reject it that is their choice. However, whether they choose to accept or reject the message is not based on my example or my life. If they try to claim otherwise the only person they are fooling is their own self."

During this time I had taken a few notes to keep track of what he said to make sure I responded to each of his points. This is my response to him:

"Let me start by saying I take offense to the fact that you immediately start by characterizing anyone who does not want to be a Christian as small and immoral. I find it insulting and highly arrogant that you think the only way to be moral is through Christianity. I assure you my morals or how big a person I am are not in question.

You say people are looking for the easy way out? They don't want to sacrifice? They don't want to work? Let me explain something to you. I was born and raised in a Christian home. My wife is a Christian. My whole family are christians. My friends are christians. By not being a Christian I am risking everything. I have worked hard and sacrificed for my new beliefs. It's been more sacrifice than I ever made as a Christian. Don't talk to me about sacrifice and laziness.

People just want to be immoral? Really? So, your telling me that the reason I walked away from Christianity is because I wanted to be immoral. Let me check. I haven't suddenly started robbing banks. I haven't taken to pushing down little old ladies on street corners. I haven't developed a drug habit. I'm not beating on or cheating on my wife. The only thing I am doing that you would disapprove of is that I'm not a Christian. That's it. If I gave you an account of everything I do in a days time you would find nothing wrong with any of it. As a matter of fact you would find that I give more time now helping others than I ever did when I was encumbered by chains of Christian rules and dogmas. It's rather small of you to even insinuate that the reason people don't want to follow god is because they want to be immoral.

I find your phrase 'point out perceived wrongs' to be rather funny. I don't need to convince myself that I'm just as good as you. I don't view myself as any better or worse than anyone else. I'm imperfect. Your imperfect. We all are. I don't give a damn about your wrongs, perceived or real. The only reason it ever comes up is because christians are so intent on pointing out everything they believe to be wrong with us that it just gets sickening. As a matter of fact I would venture a guess that if anyone is using the perceived wrong of others to make themselves feel better it is christians.

That last thing you said is perhaps one of the most repulsive things about Christianity. It's all up to the spirit. The message is so powerful that you act as if there is nothing you could do to mess it up. How convenient for you. As long as you have presented 'the gospel' to me you are completely off the hook about everything else. Who cares if people look at your example of Christianity and run away screaming? Once you told them about god it's all up to the spirit and you can totally absolve yourself of all responsibility. I've got news for you. The way you present yourself and the way you act says more about 'your gospel' than the words you say. If you come off as a self-righteous obnoxious ass your words mean little. When your actions betray your words the words become meaningless. It seems to me that your the one taking the easy way out by taking no responsibility for your own actions.

I find it rather disturbing that you feel being a Christian is the only possible to live a moral life. If the only thing keeping you from a mindless crime spree is the threat of some future eternal damnation then by all means stick with it. I'd rather you be a Christian than a serial killer, but as for me I'm doing just fine being moral without the threat of endless torture hanging over my head.

It seems to me that Christians are the ones that spend their time, often euphorically, pointing fingers at everyone and everything for any perceived wrong they can find. Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

As for someone fooling their own self please look in the mirror. You can try to pass the buck all you want. The bottom line is that when you claim to be a Christian then your life, your words, and your actions are representative of what being a Christian is all about. You can claim that once you present the gospel that your actions no longer affect the choice I or someone else will make if it makes you feel better. That doesn't make it true. The truth is your argument is nothing more than a way to absolve yourself of the responsibility of living what you preach."

I probably lost a friend that day. Not that he was much of a friend anymore anyway. For the past two or three months our conversations have only consisted of him trying to win me back to Christianity. He acts as if my choice to leave the faith has suddenly made me no smarter than a five year old. He has become condescending and arrogant. It's as if I no longer have value as a person because I no longer believe the way he does.

I'm appalled to realize I once believed that way, but I guess when you live by a creed that throws away logic and reason all you have left is irrational, unreasonable rationalization to explain things that you don't like or understand.



64 comments:

webmdave said...

If you really want to be regular in your immorality, become a xian!

god will forgive you at least 7 x 70 times, which should be enough for most people.

Even if you are imprisoned for fraud, tax evasion and sexual peccadillos - an ocupational hazard for televangelists, it appears - you can be sure of both god's and your flocks forgiveness and pick up the same old sheeple-funded lifestyle when you get out of the slammer.

Oh yes, regular forgiveness from a mythical deity must surely bet walking around with atheist/agnostic angst about the small wrong things we are careless about these days.

webmdave said...

Of all the responses from loved ones, invalidation is the one that absolutely infuriates me. Because they're all dead now I don't have to deal with it but as a young person just leaving Christianity and not knowing how to respond to it (invalidation), or even why I was so angry, In response I'd say something hurtful, they would feel bewildered and attacked, and the argument was on). People who are convinced of their position, esp if they are in the majority, tend to invalidate out of hand and often don't realize how painful it is. I think invalidation is the height of disrespect. I've learned to be careful about attacking a person's ideas while validating (ie respecting) the person. Aside from being abusive, personal attacks are ineffective and actually concretize their beliefs. Whose ever changed changed their minds because they were ridiculed, insulted or invalidated? I was in there place then and I won't do that to others.

webmdave said...

Excellent article. Enjoyed it. So great to hear others' experiences that echo my own after all these years wandering alone. One thing I'm stuck with is how so many here--maybe all--came to this point alone--no Missionaries, community, fellowship or family support. It's a stark journey and a personal one. Thank you ExFundie.

webmdave said...

Yes, the road can be lonely. No support is bad enough. But add fundie-comments such as "You are immoral, evil, possessed by/under satan's control" and the road becomes covert and secretive...at least for a while.....

Thank DAVE for this website!

webmdave said...

Unfortunately, the collateral damage which usually stems from walking away from "the walk" is very tangible and it hurts. In my testimony which I submitted here some weeks ago (Rope a Dope), I spoke of having to cut ties with friends I had before my so-called walk with xhrist, even my longest-standing friend who was always trying to keep my mischief contained and usually bore the brunt of my childhood antics. This was the collateral damage I took as I BEGAN my walk with my imaginary friend. Fortunately for me, something inside him knew that even if it took years, that my xtianity was a phase, nothing more and that we would be friends again. Truthfully, he never gave up trying to remain my friend. That should have been my first clue that taking up a membership with the god squad was the wrong answer. I do relate to your loss in this friend. I should be able to say that the loss of my own xtian "friends" didn't hurt, but it did. Where your friend couldn't even agree to disagree with your new found beliefs (or lack thereof), you can at least can rationalize your severence of ties with him by saying "thank you (friend) for making letting you go easier for me." It's a luxury I wished my xtain friends had extended to me. But then, it took me years to learn and more years to put together the fine tunings of the mob mentality that I had once been a member of. I now understand why my xtian friends parted ways with me in the manner that they chose to. Mutual agreement on anything takes work, so they pre-emptively and unilaterally ended their friendships with me before there was even an opportunity to discuss it. In doing this, they betray their own empty doctrine of pursuing the so-called least of the flock (which would be us free-thinkers) by abandoning us, rationalizing that they tried their darndest to keep you in the flock or herd (any wonder they use SHEEP as analogous figures, even in the bible?). I have little doubt that this is the thought that went through your so-called friend's mind. To boot, he likely walked away from that conversation thinking he was somehow superior to you.
The one thing I will credit xtianity with is this - it has certainly, much to my chagrin, weathered the storm. It is a false monopoly of morality enforced by fear. The foundation on which this enterprise was built has the tensile strength of wet tissue paper, yet it has withstood centuries as empires have risen and fallen. Unfortunately, the fuel of dolts who continue to choose to believe have propelled this system of beliefs right into the 21st century. Enjoy your life - don't let the loss of s friend get you down.

webmdave said...

Thanks. It really is a great line and your entire article was spot on.

webmdave said...

Thanks. I agree. Finding this website has been a wonderful thing.

webmdave said...

I must admit I got over it quicker than I thought I would.

webmdave said...

I thought that 1) it was a ridiculously quick decision with NO reflection or discussion or even fear and trembling, and 2) he instantly went "bad". Hooker and booze in his hospital room, for Pete's sake.

I agonized for years before I decided to leave the church, then I still worried the "what ifs" for a couple more years. And the only way my behavior changed was that I stayed home on Sundays and spent more time with the kids. I think most people take it a lot slower and their personalities remain very much as they were--just without the god concept.

webmdave said...

And isn't there a religious group that recently talked some African country into making laws that would make punishment for being a homosexual death? Then there was such an outcry that now it is "only" punishable by life imprisonment. Oh there are still christians out there trying to live by the worst of the bible.

webmdave said...

I think my sons could vouch for me and say, "No, she really does not."

Just ran it past my older son and he said, "No, you don't."

So there you have it. As my sons, or at least of them because he is here currently, are my witness. Guess I'm a strange person.

webmdave said...

While the path into Xianity can make you insane. True story or at least told my Xian co-worker who told me about a car accident she had. They get out of their cars and the guy said, "Thank God no one was hurt." She said she said, "That's right! Thank God. Let's get on our knees right now and thank him." She said he got on his knees and prayed with her.

My chin dropped at the insane scene of the two of them in the middle of the road, with two crashed cars, on their knees praying. It was INSANE!

Oh, she, of course, thought it was a great thing, but what if someone not paying attention to their driving, was looking at the crash and then at the two of them. Their car could easily hit them. It was totally stupid- at least in the scene I was picturing in my head.

Total nutters. That is for sure.

webmdave said...

You realize you are poking holes right through the stereotypes the christians want to paint of us non believers dont you?

Me too.

webmdave said...

I do agree with you. I guess that is what I was trying to say. I don't know what would cause such an immediate turn around of beliefs, but I don't think it would be that situation.

webmdave said...

I agree, invalidation is one of the worst things. I also think trying to ignore the person is almost as bad too, because it is almost like invalidation.

webmdave said...

I was told it was 70 X 70. If either one is true, then there is a limit to forgiveness.

I was visiting my younger son yesterday and the lady next to me, who was not only visiting her son, who was in jail for dealing, had been in jail too. It was almost a "Dead Like Me" moment. Anyway, she was telling her son, who wanted a cigarette, that when he got out he was going to church. I thought, "How is that going to help him? He'll only learn ways to justify his behaviours."

At the same time, my son is in there for trespassing, MIP, shoplifting... all misdemeanors and her response to me was, "Your son's a good boy." I asked her, "He is?" while thinking, "Define "good"." She said, "Yes. He is, because he is not in for dealing drugs." I'm not so sure that not dealing drugs alone qualifies as being good if one is locked up for 60 days and then has to do 28 in rehab afterwards.

My other thought was, "Yeah, lady, and your son probably gave my son the drugs and alcohol for all I know." Come to find out, her son is also 18, so I could probably rule out the alcohol, unless he encouraged my son to shoplift it. Her thinking was that her son was probably going to prison at an early age, while my son only has misdemeanor charges and was not going to prison (yet), therefore he's a good boy. That thinking, along with her insistence her son goes to church after he gets out makes no sense to me.

My thinking is, if you get locked up for any amount of time, means you did something wrong and society is punishing you for it. It's not some supernatural deity one needs to make amends to, but rather society. That's why we have jails and prisons. IF there were truly a supernatural being that punished us, then that being should be smart enough to know that humans need discipline in the here and now, not later.

While Xians love to think that IS God's punishment in the here and now, twisting what is human law and alike into God's retribution, it is really one being forced to take their punishment by society's rules, not some supernatural deity.

IMO, that is some poor parental figure that says, "Oh I forgive you, BUT... do it repeatedly, without asking forgiveness and I'll punish you later." A true parent doesn't wait until years later to discipline their child. They give them time-out, grounding, whatever they chose to discipline their child IMMEDIATELY, not "Oh, well. I'll give you time-out 20 years from now. Meanwhile, you can just go on and irritated me for the next 20 years with your disrespect and hitting." It doesn't work that way. For a child to learn, for example, hitting is wrong, they must be put in time-out, for example, immediately and then explained to as to why hitting is wrong or they never learn why hitting is wrong.

So society says, people under 21 are not allowed to drink and no one, for any reason is to shoplift (these are examples) and when they get caught, they spend some time in a form of "time-out" called jail. This is not any deity's doing, but humans' doing in order for a society to function properly. The believers twist not only this, but say their piss poor parent figure in the sky will punish such people later, UNLESS they go to church and make amends, then this piss poor sky parent lets them go around like Bill Cosby's Adam in the Apple.

It's all stupid thinking and if this sky daddy was really worth his salt as a parent, then more people would get a spanking from him more often and sooner, instead after death.

Of course, the reality of it all is, there is no sky daddy, there is no hell, and there is no reward and punishment after one dies. Society's rules, in the here and now, is all there is and people really need to grow up and face that fact.

webmdave said...

lol Oh yeah! I am known for poking holes into various ignorant thoughts, opinions, and stereotypes. Always have been, even as a child and it really irritated the adults around me. Guess that is where my evilness comes into play. hehehehehe That and I attribute it to being an only child who has too much time on her hands to think about such things. Of course, this does not r/o other children who have too much time to think about such things.

webmdave said...

I kind of like House but have you noticed how they made him out to be the stereotypical 'atheist'? Bitter, mean, grumpy, condescending, etc.

That show you saw is so screwed up. So insulting. I was in a Secular Bible class once where we were covering stereotypes. I was the only atheist in the group and was the only one who had experiences of being stereotyped. The other people had NO CLUE! Pft.

webmdave said...

" IF there were truly a supernatural being that punished us, then that being should be smart enough to know that humans need discipline in the here and now, not later."

It would also be a motivating factor if that deity would make it unequivocally plain that he/she/it AND the reward existed. If you actually KNEW it was there, you might work harder at deserving it. As it stands at the moment, it only serves as a generally inefficient method of crowd control. If only god were a little brighter and knew more about what makes the people he supposedly created tick.

I wish you every success with your son's future.

Peace,

David

webmdave said...

That's why I thought that episode had to have been written by a christian. No concept of the enormity of what it means to stop believing, or the process, or the freedom when you come to terms with it, or the fact that you really don't change in any visible way.

webmdave said...

I like "House", too. He reminds me of my husband (though hubby is not quite as grumpy), blue eyes, long face, doesn't shave as often as he should. One of my friends calls my husband Greg (House) because she saw the resemblance first. I do think House needs to spend a week every month in his asylum to get a handle on his own god complex. (lol)

I do like British films, where, unless it is a "Mystery at the Vicar's House" type thing, atheism is the norm. Even "Doctor Who" and company are atheists and nobody bats n eye. Can you imagine having a successful show in the US where the hero is a blatant atheist?

webmdave said...

Thanks. He's made a lot of bad choices and I do hope he straightens out soon, because I want my sweet son back, so that I have two sweet sons again. I really don't know this kids anymore. OK so he's 18, almost 19, so he's not exactly a kid, but he'll always be my baby, same with the older one.

webmdave said...

One of my teachers way back when used to have "table topics" out in the cafeteria at the tech school once a week. He advertised it as sort of a debate thing so naturally four atheists showed up. Turns out he was running a proselytizing gig and wasn't too happy with us atheists turning it INTO a debate. Anyway one of his points that really got me was: us atheists who are good, moral, kind people who help others out etc. are all going to hell. That's it, final judgment because we won't except Jesus into our hearts. But serial killers and child molesters will ALL go to heaven because all they have to do is say "I love Jesus" and they will be forgiven while we won't. The thing is, I think the horrified expressions on our face didn't register with him AT ALL that maybe WE wouldn't want to be around all those people anyways. I guess god's forgiveness changes upon who you ask.

webmdave said...

Apologists. Is it just me or do you think in your head every time you see that word "People who apologize for the bible and try to justify it."

webmdave said...

Sadly most Christians never even bothered to think about their religions origin.

webmdave said...

Even when they do actually hear or read some of it they immediately claim it has been manipulated or falsified. I was once that blind myself.

webmdave said...

"The real history of christianity has been eye opening."

Hard to think of a bigger understatement!!

webmdave said...

Many do not bother. I think many modern Christians believe the Bible simply fell from the sky in complete form almost two thousand years ago. Some claim the existence of the Bible and the presence of the "Holy Spirit" are why we don't have miracles or prophets etc. these days. I guess God doesn't need those things to reveal His powers since we have the Bible and the "Holy Spirit"...

webmdave said...

YEP!

webmdave said...

How about "mind blowing"?

webmdave said...

Imagine a president who is an athiest.

webmdave said...

Oh I do. I have often wondered about Obama. But, even then, his/her hands would be tied until we get an enlightened Congress.

The country would be so much better off.

webmdave said...

How about "mind blowing"?

Agree!! I toggle between anger/frustration, understanding, and pity for/of those responsible for my xtain indoctrination. I find it ironic that the very "seek the truth" type of encouragement and challange from the xtian indoctrination process is what led me to unbelief. I am quite literally unable to comprehend how, with the "seek the truth" stuff and the lack of applying what we use in everyday life (intellectual honesty, full disclosure, probabilistic reasoning, and consistent reasoning from issue to issue), one can still hold on to the xtian religion.

webmdave said...

My sentiments exactly. Sometimes all I can do is shake my head in utter disbelief at some of the things xtians still hold to be The Truth.

webmdave said...

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webmdave said...

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webmdave said...

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webmdave said...

I have no use for apologists. Why would any religion need pushy salesman to "close the deal".

webmdave said...

Whenever I read some text on the internet about people not finding god or finding him none believable they always make the argument that its always our fault, were not trying hard enough or something to that extent.

webmdave said...

Yeah, they're experts at blaming everybody/everything but their very own special god, aren't they? That's when I say to them, "Well, if god is so powerful and all-knowing, he'll know just what it will take to make me believe. Until then, call me Doubting-Thomas."

webmdave said...

There was even an article in Newsweek this week saying that very thing. Also using the "God works in mysterious ways" mantra. This stuff has no place in a News magazine.

webmdave said...

Oh but see, according to them, we haven't found the truth. What we've learned is all wrong. See, again according them, if we had found the truth then we would know God and understand His word. *rolling eyes* More often than not, those who say this crap generally have not educated themselves or if they have, they have pushed it all aside in favour of mythology.

webmdave said...

exfundy....A great post, and so very true. One of the things you said =
" By not being a Christian I am risking everything. " How true. Non-believers are some of the bravest people I know. To go against the tide of non-reason and admit that the Emperor has no clothes, to me, takes a lot of personal courage....in the face of, dare I say it......SILLINESS !
It isn't easy being a non-believer, but once you are one, you look back and think : " What was I thinking ! ! ! " It's like an anvil is lifted off your weary shoulders.

webmdave said...

Oh but see, according to them, we haven't found the truth. What we've learned is all wrong. See, again according them, if we had found the truth then we would know God and understand His word. *rolling eyes* More often than not, those who say this crap generally have not educated themselves or if they have, they have pushed it all aside in favour of mythology.

webmdave said...

There was even an article in Newsweek this week saying that very thing. Also using the "God works in mysterious ways" mantra. This stuff has no place in a News magazine.

webmdave said...

Yeah, they're experts at blaming everybody/everything but their very own special god, aren't they? That's when I say to them, "Well, if god is so powerful and all-knowing, he'll know just what it will take to make me believe. Until then, call me Doubting-Thomasina."

webmdave said...

Thank you for the post. It is an interesting topic.

I get a kick out of apologists who claim law and order and morality would not exist without the Hebrew God and/or Christianity. I wonder if they ever heard of the Code of Hammurabi. It dates back to almost 1800 BCE. It may not be the perfect set of laws by modern standards, but it was drafted about 1,800 years before Bible Jesus. It also makes no reference to the God of the Hebrews. In fact, many archeologists now believe it may be hundreds of years older than any original manuscripts of the Old Testament. It is worth a look.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi


This was Babylonian law. No input from the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Bible Jesus.

How is it possible??? Morality... not from the Hebrew God or Jesus...

webmdave said...

Whenever I read some text on the internet about people not finding god or finding him none believable they always make the argument that its always our fault, were not trying hard enough or something to that extent.

webmdave said...

I have no use for apologists. Why would any religion need pushy salesman to "close the deal".

webmdave said...

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webmdave said...

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webmdave said...

exfundy....A great post, and so very true. One of the things you said =
" By not being a Christian I am risking everything. " How true. Non-believers are some of the bravest people I know. To go against the tide of non-reason and admit that the Emperor has no clothes, to me, takes a lot of personal courage....in the face of, dare I say it......SILLINESS !
It isn't easy being a non-believer, but once you are one, you look back and think : " What was I thinking ! ! ! " It's like an anvil is lifted off your weary shoulders.

webmdave said...

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webmdave said...

My sentiments exactly. Sometimes all I can do is shake my head in utter disbelief at some of the things xtians still hold to be The Truth.

webmdave said...

How about "mind blowing"?

Agree!! I toggle between anger/frustration, understanding, and pity for/of those responsible for my xtain indoctrination. I find it ironic that the very "seek the truth" type of encouragement and challange from the xtian indoctrination process is what led me to unbelief. I am quite literally unable to comprehend how, with the "seek the truth" stuff and the lack of applying what we use in everyday life (intellectual honesty, full disclosure, probabilistic reasoning, and consistent reasoning from issue to issue), one can still hold on to the xtian religion.

webmdave said...

Oh I do. I have often wondered about Obama. But, even then, his/her hands would be tied until we get an enlightened Congress.

The country would be so much better off.

webmdave said...

Imagine a president who is an athiest.

webmdave said...

How about "mind blowing"?

webmdave said...

YEP!

webmdave said...

Many do not bother. I think many modern Christians believe the Bible simply fell from the sky in complete form almost two thousand years ago. Some claim the existence of the Bible and the presence of the "Holy Spirit" are why we don't have miracles or prophets etc. these days. I guess God doesn't need those things to reveal His powers since we have the Bible and the "Holy Spirit"...

webmdave said...

"The real history of christianity has been eye opening."

Hard to think of a bigger understatement!!

webmdave said...

Even when they do actually hear or read some of it they immediately claim it has been manipulated or falsified. I was once that blind myself.

webmdave said...

Apologists. Is it just me or do you think in your head every time you see that word "People who apologize for the bible and try to justify it."

webmdave said...

Sadly most Christians never even bothered to think about their religions origin.