It began innocently enough: a little unscientific sociological experiment born out of a coffee chat with a friend. How are Christians viewed in today’s ‘modern’ society?
The question was stored in the back of my mind for quite a while, waiting for the right moment to be revealed. Social media presented the opportunity to get the ball rolling, and roll it did.
A Twitter re-tweet from an atheist telling a person of faith “…your God isn’t real.” The arrogance of the statement was obvious. A mortal human believed she possessed the knowledge to single-handedly discount the possibility of a ‘higher power’. What struck me more was the sheer hypocrisy of the statement, made (unsurprisingly) from someone who identified with the progressive Left.
My simple interjection pointed out the intolerance. Telling someone that their entire belief system was fraudulent, followed by imbecilic judgmental rhetoric. Here we go, I thought.
I decided to engage with a strategy of restraint. I identified as someone who believes Jesus is who He said He was, but I made the point not to do the expected. I never quoted scripture, didn’t attempt to ‘witness’ to anyone. In fact, perhaps to the chagrin of fellow Christians, I stayed true to my meme of ‘live and let live’. If you don’t believe, cool, if you do, great. I wasn’t there to ‘save’ anyone.
That didn’t seem to matter in the 14 or so atheists who quickly swarmed. As I expected, responses ranged from the ultra-juvenile to the shamefully stereotypical. Also as expected, the questions, allegations, and other statements thrown my way somehow suggested that I should be defending my beliefs.
I’ve never felt compelled to explain or ‘defend’ my personal beliefs to anyone, religious or otherwise. This perplexed my audience to the point of frustration. The name-calling and categorizing began swiftly, as the atheist mob mistook my confidence in my beliefs as ‘arrogance’. Some pulled out ancient nuggets of information in the quest to discredit Christianity while others resorted to playing the ‘let’s see if we can piss off the Bible-thumper’ game (I much prefer ‘Jesus freak’ myself).
Still, I didn’t bite. My retorts stayed consistent: you don’t believe what I believe? That’s nice. To each their own. You walk your path, I’ll walk mine. I won’t push my beliefs on you, and I expect you to repay in kind.
That, apparently, was too much for the non-believers. With each failed attempt to draw me into their circular logic, their frustration morphed a little more into anger. The ‘evidence’ from the other side actually started logically, with historical writings quoted. However, that soon devolved into the adolescent comparisons of Jesus Christ to such other ‘mythical entities’ as Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.
By this point, the entire project had a mind of its own. Others joined in, each one slightly more condescending than the last.
By my own admission, I would lead the debate in a different direction from time to time. Like fuel on a fire, it never failed to catch. A big issue for the other sides was ‘minded’, as in I was close-minded for believing. When I countered with my claim that to believe completely in something one cannot see, touch, smell, or feel – in other words, to leave your mind open to the possibility that there are things we cannot comprehend (see: faith), that was enough to push a few over the edge of sanity.
The allegations from the religious-deficient were actually quite comical. It was alleged that I was ‘indoctrinated’ into the church ‘as a child’, which is why I believed what I did. Um, no. I grew up in a family that was nowhere near a church, save for weddings and funerals. Strike one.
Another gold ring was the idea that I was a sheep who ‘followed the words of my Priest’ and therefore, was close-minded and prone to suggestion. Again, way off. I’ve never had a priest, due mostly to the fact that I am not a Catholic. Never mind the truth that I haven’t been to a Sunday church service approximately two decades. Strike two.
By this point, straw seemed to be the atheist mob’s favorite tool - grasping for it, as well as creating strawman arguments out of it. Naturally by this point in the fun, the personal attacks were fast and furious. I can only imagine this was due to my refusal to fit the typical Christian stereotype. No Bible passages, no great quotes from the Lord. As a matter of fact, I agreed with some criticisms of Christianity. When one made the stunning revelation that those who follow the Lord were ‘hypocrites’, I whole-heartedly agreed. Of course we are. To a degree, everyone is. We are all flawed.
Ironically, it was an atheist who pulled Biblical scripture in the ham-handed attempt to argue. With a Tweet-back highlighting the fact that she was trying to use words from a book she doesn’t believe in from a religion she considers ‘fake’ in order to win a debate, her head damn-near exploded.
By this time, I was sitting back and watching the entire thread unfold. A few fellow Christians jumped in, perhaps unaware of the vitriol spewed earlier on. They caught on fairly quickly.
The end result could be summed up by the last tweet of one specific atheist who couldn’t sway my opinion which, for some reason, self-proclaimed ‘tolerant’ atheists feel the deep-seeded need to do. Frustrated by his lack of success, he proceeded to Twitter-threaten me (which is comedy in and of itself), threw the expected expletive my way, then ran and hid behind a ‘block’ click. Pure gold.
In the final analysis, I’ve realized that it is the ‘evangelical atheists’ who are the least tolerant. They cannot abide a different opinion or belief in something. Even without ‘pushing’ my beliefs on them – which I habitually never do to anyone – they felt compelled to push theirs onto me. When I turn down their offer of enlightenment, they become sour to the point of having a face that resembles a cat’s ass.
The intention was to gain an idea of how Christians are seen in today’s modern society. The result was the exposure of a societal group so bitter, so judgmental that they cannot engage a Christian without the reflex to condemn and discredit.
I ended with a simple response to someone who felt proud to proclaim her non-belief in God: don’t worry. He believes in you. And another head explodes.