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Why are Christians so mean?

Why are Christians so mean?

Christians can be remarkably mean-spirited, notes the Rev. Kimberly Hyatt of Jacksonville, Fl., blogging at patheos.com:

Why are Christians so mean? I recently posted a variation of this on Facebook. It was a sincere question but also a subtle apology for the way so many fellow Christians have been acting over Chick-fil-A’s stance on same-sex marriage and closer to my home, a vote by our city council on an anti-discrimination measure. Of course, Christians are going to hold different opinions on hot-button issues, but the spirit in which we on either side choose to express those opinions matters and, in some respects, may matter more than the position itself.

Curious, I decided to see if I was the first to pose the question. Sadly, there was nothing original about it. Within one quarter of a second, a Google search of “Why are Christians so mean” returned 5,190 results.

To put these numbers in context, I ran the same query for other faiths. As we would expect in the post 9-11 environment, “Why are Muslims so mean” yielded 8,320 results. More telling, however, are the following comparisons:

There were seven results for “Why are Jews so mean?” and four results for “Why are Hindus so mean?” “Why are Buddhists so mean” yielded one result with no results at all when I asked, “Why are Sikhs so mean?”

It wasn’t always this way. Certainly not in the early Church, when Tertullian remarked, “Look, how they love one another” or when Aristides wrote, “They walk in all humility and kindness.” When is the last time you heard anyone say anything even close to that about Christians? Ever?

Hyatt goes on to say that “the very fact so many see Christians this way should stop us in our tracks. Considering that the early Christian movement was known as ‘the Way,’ behaving in a way that others interpret as ‘mean’ is no way to commend the faith that is in us, it’s not the way Jesus lived, and it’s certainly not the way anyone should be able to know we are Christians.”

Read Hyatt’s full post here. Why is it that Christians exhibit such meanness in our modern culture? And why is that the least charitable Christians among us seem to define the faith?

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Gary Young

After many years, I finally figured it out. All religion is fraud perpetrated for power and control. All the fraud perpetrators are competing for the same power and they move to “mean” to try to intimidate and win the competition.

Gary Young

Bill Dilworth

I think it’s all BS. Painting Christians and Christianity as a whole as “mean” and then looking for reasons why that’s so (reasons that the good folks here at the Cafe are exempt from, and therefor conveniently not mean at all) is no more legitimate than painting any other religious groups with the broad brush of stereotyping.

Neither are the numbers of a Google search all that revealing. People ask Google “Why are Christians so mean?” a lot so it must mean that Christians are mean? What do the number of hits on queries like “Why are Jews so greedy?” (11,000) and “Why are Hindus so stupid?” (2,790) reveal, I wonder? The answer, of course, is that they reveal nothing more than the prejudice of the people doing the asking.

I’m not even sure that it’s the case that we were always so very nice, open, and accepting until recently, no matter what Tertullian or Aristides said (they were Christians themselves, not outside observers, anyway). Certainly the sort of attitude evidenced in St Stephen’s last sermon – the one that got him stoned – doesn’t sound so very “all of us are in or all of us are out.” Ditto Ss Paul and Peter. If anything sets Christians apart from the rest of humanity, it doesn’t seem to be niceness – or meanness.

Hayley Zeller

Ed- will do!! Ya’all maybe should disable the Facebook sign-in option. For some reason it defaults to the beginning of the email address your Facebook account uses, which isn’t a great option for either of us. 🙂 It doesn’t show that until after you comment, either. Thanks!

Ihayley

Kevin, interesting take… but I think that you can’t blame it all on the development of Doctrine — forgetting the true Gospel and losing the humility it gives is at the heart of the problem, IMHO.

It happens when you lose the Gospel where the story is about what God did for you, and embrace the modern false gospel that it’s about what you’re doing for God. If you believe that Christianity is just a long process of sanctification and obedience that earns you “brownie points” with God, then you can fancy yourself further along that vector to heaven than others. That means you can look down your nose at someone else, call them less “spiritual” than you for their lifestyle or political stand or what have you. This means they are further behind you on the journey to heaven, and you can be mean and judgmental and still think yourself righteous. After all, you’re the holy one who figured it all out, right? You’re the one who is “obedient” to God, no?

But if you can remember that the Gospel is a story of totally free grace, then you can remember that we all stand equal before God.

lhayley – please sign your name when you comment at Episcopal Café — thanks ~ed.

Beau Quilter

As I commented on Hyatt’s blog, she is reading Tertullian selectively if she thinks he was never “mean”. He was vehemently opposed to homosexuality or any sexual “deviations” calling monstrous. In De Spectaculis he revels at the thought of being in heaven watching the sinful actors and athletes of ancient Rome screaming in torture in the flames of hell. His description is rapturous. He looks forward to watching sinners burn with great relish. With Tertullian as an example, we have to conclude that early Christians were just as mean as Christians today.

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