Dear Christian, No, I Don’t Hate You. Here is What I do Hate.

two-women-talkingOn the important difference between hating bad ideas and hating people.

As a former Evangelical Christian, I write critically—even harshly—about biblical Christianity, the kind that treats the Bible as if it were the literally-perfect word of God. I also write harshly about the Catholic hierarchy—the authoritarian institution that compiled the Bible 1500 years ago and still today seeks to impose derivative beliefs and rules on society at large. In response, I often receive comments and messages from Christians who say I must hate them, which isn’t true.

Other nontheists and anti-theists get similarly accused. Recently, two well-known critics of Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz, had their names put on a “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.” Ali is a former Muslim and Nawaz a moderate believer, and their appearance on the list was particularly frightening because such lists, not infrequently, get folks like them killed.

Bad Ideas ≠ Bad People

Deploring bad ideas or institutions and hating people are two very different things and, in the quest for a better world, whether a person is a critic of religion or a critic of the critics—it is important not to confuse one with the other. So, in hope of putting to rest the notion that outspoken anti-theism must be driven by hatred of Christian people (or Muslim people or Jewish people—or any other group of people for that matter), let me draw an analogy. It is sure to offend, but it’s the best I’ve found.

My sister Kathy is mentally ill, which has caused decades of hardship for her and her children and, by extension, everyone around her. I hate her bipolar illness. I hate how it makes her think and what it drives her to do. I hate the harm she inflicts on herself and her children when it takes over her brain. But I don’t hate my sister at all.

I wish Kathy were healthy and happy, that she could be the kind of parent she wants to be and her small family could flourish. It is precisely because I want these things for Kat that thinking about her illness drives me to anger and anguish. Her many good qualities—her kindness, compassion, creativity, and work ethic, for example—make her condition even more frustrating. Mostly these days I feel a sense of pained resignation, and sometimes—selfishly—I just wish I didn’t have to deal with the complexities her illness causes us all. But there have been times in my life that I would have cut off my arm if it would make her whole.

Just as I don’t hate Kathy, I don’t hate Christians, even though my feelings about Christianity as a social institution or a set of dogmas can span a similar range of intensity. As a former born-again Bible-believer, I’m keenly aware that even within the most fundamentalist sects, Christians have many good qualities and aspirations and that Church communities create space for people to come together around some of humanity’s most cherished values and experiences. Examples include generosity, compassion and gratitude; or the quest to live well and die well, to embrace joy and wonder, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. My sense that most Christians, again including fundamentalists, are genuinely decent people is part of why I react so strongly against the more toxic dimensions of Bible belief and institutionalized religion.

Ideas Worth Deploring

But no matter how firmly I express this, the perception that hate is part of the mix keeps coming up, perhaps with good reason. There are dimensions of Christianity that I loathe, and maybe the best way to distinguish between deploring these bad ideas and hating on people is to spell them out.

  1. I hate the fact that institutional Christianity carries forward some of the worst notions from humanity’s infancy, concepts like chosen people, holy war, blood atonement, and eternal torture. Every religion preserves the worldview of some subset of our ancestors. For Christianity, that worldview comes from the quarrelsome Iron Age clans of the Ancient Near East, a harsh desert region as tribal and blood-bathed then as it is now.
  2. I hate it that the Christian God, however imaginary, is such a terrible role model: alternately kind and cruel, blending love and abuse, jealous, irritable, controlling, demanding, petulant, and destructive. He loves hierarchy and demands adoration and is not above forcing both. When he gets offended, divine wrath rains down like poorly-targeted cluster bombs. God kills children for the sins of their fathers and drowns or burns animals when angry at humans or inflicts plagues on whole villages.
  3. I hate the fact that the Bible has given God’s endorsement (under the “right” circumstances, of course) to all manner of human violence: scorched earth warfare, capital punishment for over 30 offenses, sexual slavery, and child beating. Not only does the Bible-God approve these behaviors in men he favors like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; he also explicitly commands and regulates them for his Chosen People.
  4. I hate the fact that Christianity sanctifies some of humanity’s most base tendencies: tribalism, racism, sexism, certitude, closed-mindedness, willful ignorance, passivity (let go and let God), and entitled exploitation of other sentient beings.
  5. I hate the way that Bible-belief divides people into insiders and infidels, teaching that outsiders have no moral core or basis for goodness while insiders are “the light of the world.”
  6. I hate Christendom’s consequent history of destruction: everything from burning repositories of ancient knowledge, to killing folk medicine practitioners, to inquisitions and crusades, to support for slavery, to systematic decimation of native cultures around the planet.
  7. I hate the fact that the Bible provides men with so many justifications for why they should top every pecking order. In the Bible men are made in the image of God, appointed as the head of the family, given all other beasts to exploit, and assigned ownership of children and slaves.
  8. I hate how Christianity co-opts and exploits altruism to grow the religion itself and fill Church coffers. Some of the most compassionate and dedicated among us end up pouring their life energy into saving souls from an imaginary afterlife in hell rather than saving people from hellish conditions here on earth. In the same way, generosity gets diverted to fill offering plates rather than fill needs in the community at large.
  9. I hate the way that the “Great Commission” can morph otherwise decent people into a zombie salesforce. At worst, members of this sales team are always on the make—seeking to infect others even if that means preying on children, faking friendship, exploiting tragedy, or taking advantage of the power differential between Westerners and people who are destitute and desperate.
  10. I hate Christianity’s obsession with controlling sexuality, which makes it all but impossible to promote safer sex, improve family planning, stabilize global population or optimize maternal and infant health. Couple glorified virginity with the idea that painful childbearing is a punishment for original sin, and some Christians would rather ban abortions than prevent them. Many of the same people would force queer folk into lives of solitude and stigma rather than examine their own forbidden yearnings.
  11. I hate the fact that Christianity’s pro-natalism, born of the command to self-propagate and outcompete other viral ideologies, has denied billions of people the knowledge and means to manage their fertility, causing untold misery and now threatening our planetary life support system with collapse.
  12. I hate how Christianity teaches people to lie, not only to others but to themselves. We all are vulnerable to confirmatory thinking but Christianity embraces this bias as a virtue rather than one of humanity’s great failings. Christians are exhorted to start with handed-down dogmas and then to look for any pattern of evidence that might support these a priori beliefs rather than ask the questions that could show them wrong. As education and scientific knowledge advance, the mind-numbing demands of “right belief” make adherents ever more susceptible to snake oil preachers and politicians who teach that reality is whatever we want to believe.
  13. I hate the fact that Christianity gives people a way to feel good without being good—that when what matters above all to God is belief, people can be judgmental, abusive and greedy or can prey on the poor or sell arms to dictators—and still feel good about themselves because they go to church on Sunday, are saved by the blood of the lamb. After all, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”
  14. I deplore the fact that Christianity takes some of humanity’s most sacred concepts and turns them inside out. When certitude is a virtue, a mother can beat her child because she loves him, a father can reject his gay son out of kindness, or compassion can mean offering a poor person a religious tract rather than a hand up. Christian Humility becomes a trademark cosmetic layered over the hubris necessary to believe one’s own thoughts are the Voice of God.
  15. I hate the way that Christianity diminishes the wonder of this one precious life and our overwhelmingly beautiful world, offering the crass materialism of a city paved with gold and the pleasures of eternal youth as an alternative to, say, the delicate intricacy of an alpine meadow or an ancient forest or a coral reef.

Would the world be worse or better off if Christianity had never evolved and taken root in the human mind and societies? We will never know. But here is a more important question: Today, in the light of what we know about ourselves and the world around us, are we finally ready to move on into the next phase of moral and spiritual evolution? I sure hope the answer is yes.

However adaptive traditional Christian beliefs may have once been, and however much modernist Christians have worked to reform toxic teachings from within the faith, it should be clear that today the harms from traditional beliefs and practices are enormous and the risks are growing. Humanity’s future involves global interdependence and reliance on a planetary life support system that is becoming more fragile by the year. If we are going to flourish together, we must move beyond mutually-exclusive truth claims that are rooted in the conflict and ignorance of the Iron Age. That will happen only if anti-theists like me and reform-minded religious insiders are free to criticize outdated ideas and the institutions that promote them. In fact, I believe that this is the only way we will ever move beyond hating and fearing each other because of religious differences.

In closing I’d like to circle back to the Christian and Muslim worry that religion’s critics must hate believers, because while false and frustrating, it may have a silver lining. If there is any benefit that might come from atheists and reformers being accused of hating believers, it is this: The accusations serve to remind us not to cross that line. Reformers must not make the mistake of thinking that those who deplore harmful ideas must then hate the people who carry them. It is our responsibility to ensure that the accusations are not true, because that’s the very kind of tribal thinking humanity needs to leave behind.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt and Deas and Other Imaginings. Founder - www.WisdomCommons.org.
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81 Responses to Dear Christian, No, I Don’t Hate You. Here is What I do Hate.

  1. Colin Fairweather says:

    You don’t mention Jesus? Surely He is quite important if you are critiquing Christianity?

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    • Now that you mention it: it is weird how certain Christian sects took a canonically feisty rebel who spoke truth to power and was hated by the ruling class to the point where he was eliminated by the state, a guy who owned very little and shared what little he had, and who stuck up for and lived with those who were considered the lowest of society’s dregs, and morphed him into some sort of super-capitalistic genie who grants great wealth and power to the people he approves of and punishes with crushing poverty and restrictive rules the people he disapproves of–like everyone deserves exactly what they get, so it’s okay to enjoy their wealth without having to help the poor. In fact, self-righteously crushing the poor into the dirt is somehow elevated to God’s work. Weird!

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      • Gunther says:

        it is also amazing about how Calvinists have this view about being pre-ordained by God in whether you will become rich or not. In addition, you also have right wing evangelists trying to scrub the Bible of any word that smacks of compassion, socialism, liberalism, and popularism.

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      • Sha'Tara says:

        Totally agree, that being the main reason I left the religion. Only later, when I tried to have an honest relationship with just “Jesus” or the deity, and got nothing, did I decide that logic had to kick in somewhere and I jumped out of the boat and found myself swimming in truly refreshing waters. How easily we accept our mind prisons.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rorys2013 says:

        Thoughts are just representations and some are built into models but they can never be what they are representing no matter how accurate the model might be. Also there might be nothing there to represent. That is the case with the God thought which is supposed to represent a super normal being out there separate from us and creation in general. No repeatable experiment proving this being’s existence has yet been devised so until proven otherwise it is true to say that this being is fictional. Thoughts can be divided into two categories however, thoughts larded with emotion and emotionally neutral thoughts. People generally are quite prepared to check whether emotionally neutral thoughts are actually representing something or not. The same is not the case for emotionally larded thoughts these become set in emotional concrete and are not open to any kind of investigation of their validity.

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      • Sha'Tara says:

        I had to read twice over to “get it” but all I can say is, accurate and well said. Thank you.

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      • Carey Folk says:

        A note to rorys2013 statement …

        “Thoughts can be divided into two categories however, thoughts larded with emotion and emotionally neutral thoughts. People generally are quite prepared to check whether emotionally neutral thoughts are actually representing something or not. The same is not the case for emotionally larded thoughts these become set in emotional concrete and are not open to any kind of investigation of their validity.”

        While I certainly land in the “trust my own ability to reason and think” camp – I’m don’t think there is such a thing as “emotionally neutral thoughts.”

        As a human being, my emotions are always present in my thinking processes. This leads hopefully to a higher degree of humility with the conclusions I reach. I know I am filtering even my reason – which I value very highly BTW.

        Yes, I agree with Valerie’s article. But a short read on the comments to the post I think supports my position about no such thing as emotionally neutral thoughts.

        Just saying….:)

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      • rorys2013 says:

        I agree it is actually not possible to have a completely emotionally neutral thought. On the other hand there are degrees of emotionality attached to thoughts and perhaps it would have been more correct to say beliefs are thoughts so loaded with emotion that the holder is incapable of checking their validity against reality.

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      • Sha'Tara says:

        I see this as splitting hairs. The way an “Earthian” is designed, it generates feelings and these degenerate into a variety of emotional output. Some day, perhaps, should the species evolve enough to survive the next few hundred years, it will learn this simple truth: that it is primarily a mind being and that is where it resides to make decisions when it is in an evolved state. Less evolved creatures “think” that their mind is just another aspect of their confused natures, so they have nothing to go by to correct their thinking except for laws, rules, beliefs, chance, leaders (etc.!) or whatever experiences they happen to remember that approximates the current dilemma. Once one realizes that “feelings” are a necessary part of operating a physical body, and that such feelings once having served their purpose become emotional exhaust, that one will not seek to suck off of its own exhaust. Surely a human is smarter than a internal combustion engine? The “trick” is to recognize when a feeling has gone “emotional” and ignore it. Seems to me that all of man’s social problems can be traced to engaging emotional output as something that could actually be used to drive something rather than as the poisonous entropic energy that it is. Some day… maybe.

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      • rorys2013 says:

        Makes sense to me.

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      • Carey Folk says:

        Agreed – well said.

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  2. Chris says:

    Very well said. I was beginning to think that you were becoming more and more angry, and by default, then, more and more hateful, towards those with whom you disagree. It pains me, for reasons that I’m not going to go into here, that you are a supporter of HRC, as it is my opinion that you are so because of myriad cognitive biases, and being a psychologist, you should know better, thus, I don’t agree with your political positions whatsoever. That being said, I certainly don’t hate you. In fact, I’ve purchased all your books, and especially love Deas; I read it to my girls often. I think you are an amazing human being, with an wonderful story to tell, and many enlightening truths are contained within you. However, as mentioned, you and I could never be further apart on the political spectrum, but I do not hate you, at all! On the contrary, I’m pleased to have come to “know” you via your writings, and welcome your ideations into my life.

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    • Thanks, Chris. I suspect that the hrc you think I’m voting for and the hrc I think I’m voting for are two very different creatures.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Chris says:

        Indeed, Valerie. I’d venture to say the Trump that I think I’m voting for and the Trump you think I’m voting for are quite different creautures as well. Alas, in the end, we will have to agree to disagree. But, I love what you are trying do in regard to clarifying your positions on religion. However, my gut tells my that religion and politics, and every other area of human disagreement have one thing in common: the need to be “right,” despite empirical evidence to the contrary.

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      • Carey Folk says:

        Nice interaction between Valerie and Chris here. One comment on Chris’ comment about every area of human disagreement having one thing in common – the need to be “right” despite empirical evidence to the contrary:

        I don’t really frame that issue in terms of “right” but more in terms of “how can I live with integrity with my head and my heart?” “How can I listen not only to the rational part of my brain but the intuition in my gut? “How can I follow the voice inside of me – living in congruence with its call?”

        Framing the issue in “right” and “wrong” immediately reduces the conversation to a myopic and limited discussion. The open ended how question feels more expansive to me.

        Just my .02.

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  3. Howard Karten says:

    A few observations:

    1. These folks insist that the bible be taken literally. Umm…so then, when they speak about “being born again”…..

    2. In the article above, Dr. Tarico uses the term “Christianity” without any modifier. She appears to be referring to *evangelical* or *fundamentalist* Christianity. My experience has been that there are probably hundreds of forms of Christianity, each of them with beliefs significantly different from the others: liberal Catholic Christianity, conservative Lutheran Christianity, liberal Lutheran Christianity, African American evangelicalism, and so on.

    3. As I’ve stumbled through life, my experience has been that, as a general rule, the louder a person proclaims his/her Christianity, the less s/he actually follows the teachings of Jesus. My experience has been that folks I’d call “true Christians” almost never talk about their religion or their beliefs; to me, these folks are the best exemplars of the behavior Jesus urged on his followers.

    4. Evangelicals and fundamentalists, in particular, would do well to re-aquaint themselves with the words of Jesus regarding hate–periodically, if not daily.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arkenaten says:

      The fact you seem to prefer not to acknowledge is that Christianity is largely built upon a foundation of violence and lies; the same foundation that affords privilege to ”true Christians” who you would probably consider genuine followers of the narrative construct,Jesus of Nazareth and those bible thumping evangelicals and fundamentalists you might label somewhat loud and boorish.

      However,simply learning to cope with a disease doesn’t make the disease beneficial.

      Ark.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Perry says:

    “… let me draw an analogy. It is sure to offend, but it’s the best I’ve found.”

    It’s a perfect analogy, from my perspective. Just a few days ago on the Religion News Service website I tried to make a similar, but far less eloquent, argument to a believer who objected to an atheist like me commenting on what he insisted was a “religious site”. It’s not, its a news site that reports on religious issues, but that’s besides the point.

    His fundamentalist views were clearly the worst expressions and examples of Christianity, in my opinion. He insisted that atheists like me were bigots who hated Christians. I tried to explain that I don’t hate Christians, that there is a great variance on the Christian spectrum of belief, that I get along well with many Christians, and that my own mother, sister and other family members, and good friends are Christians, who I definitely don’t hate.

    His response was that of course family and friends will “tolerate” their atheist friends or family members, as if to suggest my family does not love me but only tolerates me. What a hateful, bigoted thing to believe and say. I find it impossible to reason with unreasonable Christians like that, even if I cite the Bible that they claim to fully believe and practice its precepts. So I gave up debating him and didn’t point out to him Matthew 5, for example:

    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
    46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
    47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

    In other words, if he truly believes I am an enemy of his faith that hates Christians, then regardless of his personal feelings, he is not only obligated but commanded by Jesus to love me, not just tolerate me, let alone express his hate for me with vile words. So it seems to me he is merely a “cafeteria Christian”.

    So, for those kinds of Christians who insist that atheists like me must hate them, it is often the case that, in fact, they are the ones full of hate.

    p.s. I expect that some believer reading my comment might refer to Matthew 4 or similar passages referring to Satan citing the scriptures. That’s another argument I frequently hear when I cite the Bible to certain Christians.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. tildeb says:

    It is both surprising and somewhat depressing that such an article needs repeated expressing.

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    • Or is it? Let’s play a game. Take the entire section titled Bad Ideas ≠ Bad People. Then substitute the words bipolar/illness for homosexuality. I don’t mean in theory. I mean scroll up and do it. Put it into practice. I say that because I’ve been hearing these precise arguments, formatted in exactly this manner, my whole life. Have a go and then tell me what you think.
      Is it a solid structure or is it something else?

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      • tildeb says:

        Sorry, Pink; the argument you’ve been hearing loads up the term homosexual with negative assumptions that are wrong first for your point to carry weight. The same is not the case with the Bad Idea called Islam, which when politicized is antithetical to exercising legal equality for women. Note that even Morocco contains the same divide in legal practice. The culprit? Not negative assumptions. Islam.

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      • I’d say the problem is that from a literalist perspective all Abrahamic religions propose patriarchy, violence, exclusivism, misogyny, homophobia and more and more and more- and some people want to make light of that pretending one religion is worse because of the religion itself- and not because of the poverty/ignorance/authoritarian political systems/theocracy/indoctrination et al that exists in those country. When ANY of these religions has been politicized, horrors have occurred. People are acting as if Christianity/Catholicism/Judaism are some sort of enlightened world view that gave free passage to secular society when the reality is quite the contrary. It’s taken revolutions and laws after laws after laws to keep Christianity in check- and we’re still far from done. Three weeks ago a court awarded a father the right to force his teenage child to have communion. Abortion is still completely prohibited in various Catholic countries. The church has spent 10’s of millions in anti-gay campaigns and who knows how many have died in Africa as a direct result of the Church’s (fraudulent) campaigns against the use of condoms. The Bosnian genocide perpetrated by Christians against Muslims involved the displacement and death of tens of thousands of people. And there’s Timothy McVeigh and Anders Breivik. Since 1977 in North America “there have been 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, 13 wounded, 100 butyric acid attacks, 373 physical invasions, 41 bombings, 655 anthrax threats, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers. have I mentioned the KKK? How about how the Catholic church excommunicated a child raped by a family member but not her rapist?
        And how many years after the Enlightenment is all of that? We don’t have the excuse of ignorance, hunger or authoritarianism as they do in the Muslim world.

        Liked by 2 people

      • rorys2013 says:

        Religion is just a more general problem that we humans have and that is of turning some of our thoughts into beliefs to which we then accord supernatural powers. This causes all sorts of knock-on problems for us.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tildeb says:

        Yes, this is why being a religious believer is not a victimless activity. It is from the religious majority that the religious minority finds cover and protection and is nurtured into being. We are in agreement on this point. But that doesn’t mean protection from criticism. Nor does it mean going along with those calling such vocal critics bigots worthy of blacklisting. This is where we part company. Ali is a voice of global importance on issues of religious misogyny. Her area of expertise is the misogyny of Islam. Blacklisting her under the false pretense of bigotry is a special standard emerging to protect Muslims from being held accountable for the inherent misogyny of their religious allegiance that when politicized acts in direct legal conflict with this vital area of elevating and protecting human rights and freedoms from religious antipathy… the very battle you know has to be fought.

        Like

      • Protection from criticism? I’d never dream of advocating that. What I said and stand by is that singling out Islam isn’t just sectarian it’s misleading. As I pointed out to you, after the Orlando attacks when Jerry Coyne said “We have to ask ourselves about Islam” – it was a call to prejudice because homophobia isn’t a uniquely Islamic problem. The day before and the day after the attacks the number one problem LGBT people in the West confront is extremist Christianity. So we have to ask ourselves about religion, not the religion of those *other* people. Remember when I did a timeline of the Christian anti gay crusade from my birth to now? Precisely.
        https://justmerveilleux.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/is-it-really-christians-who-are-under-attack-the-story-of-a-prolonged-aggression/

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      • tildeb says:

        You are importing a bias to justify claiming others are biased. For example, the Orlando shooter claimed ISIS allegiance. Yet here you are claiming Coyne introduced Islam into the shooting and, by doing so, demonstrated a “call to prejudice.”

        You are suggesting Ali is worthy of being blacklisted by importing your bias that presumes all religions are equally responsible to therefore justify claiming her bias against Islam! For crying out loud, Pink, you’ve lost the thread because Ali is exactly the kind of critical voice needed to be heard by those whom confuse Islam to be just another religion. It’s not. Misogyny is absolutely central to its tenets no matter how much constitutional reform you try to impose on these Islamicized populations and the only way out is to have enough conversations about it with people like Ali. But yYou’ve already closed you ears to her because you presume your bias plays no part and it’s she who has gone over the edge by singling out Islam as the worst offender because the misogyny is embedded in sharia which then gains political and legal defense against equality. The same is not true with Christianity’s battle for privilege against individual autonomy. It’s just not… no matter how much you insist it’s all the same. That is simply not the case in reality. And if you listened more to people like Ali and Harris without importing your bias against them, you’d hear this argument you present dealt with and defeated time and again by these folk. They are not anti-Muslim; they advocate for equality rights and freedoms FOR Muslims. Hence the absolute absurdity of blacklisting Ali for doing what the Center itself tries to achieve.

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      • You’ve lost the plot and I’m sorry to say you’re blinded by a narrative. By pinning the shootings on Islam Coyne irresponsibly and dishonestly pretended to have more information than he actually had. You’re making exactly the same mistake. Setting aside evidence and going with a sectarian variety of narrative.
        I’m perfectly open and prepared to hear evidence that differentiates religions. Evidence that proves Islam is actually worst. That has not been forthcoming. Thus far it’s all been spurious at best. Your defence of Christianity’s quest for autonomy is almost funny. Do you mean under Pius IX when he was Garibaldi’s prisoner?
        I’d love to think Ali or Nawaz had done great favours to free thinking. It simply hasn’t happened. Ali and Nawaz aren’t great thinkers, they’re competent entertainers. It’s starting to look like Coyne and Harris are of that same stock. All boots and hats but no cattle.

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      • Sha'Tara says:

        As a youthful cowboy on a northern ranch, this one made me laugh… “All boots and hats but no cattle.” City slickers… You guys have a very good discussion going, I’m reading avidly to learn something from all comments. I can feel my thoughts turning this way, that way, to see all sides. Valerie has a fantastic gift of bringing out the best in people, hasn’t she?

        Liked by 1 person

      • And just for fun do tell us how misogyny is absolutely not part of the central tenets of Christianity at all! The proof of course being all those rights Christian women have had since the 3rd or 4th century? 10th? Oh, wait. Did they have to wait until Napoleonic law? Thank goodness for Christian Feminism!!! Pardon me for *my* bias. Maybe what you actually meant were the exceptional rights of Jewish Orthodox women. They get their very own section of the synagogue, don’t they? Where they have the privilege to cover their heads? Even in silk, should they be able to afford it!

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      • tildeb says:

        Come on, Pink; you’re actually suggesting I think Christianity supports legal equality? Hardly. But criticizing Islamism for institutionalizing misogyny is a fact. If Christianity were to become embedded in the state, then it too would have to undergo moderation and liberalization to survive.

        This it has done. We see countries like Ireland dismantling Catholic bias and discrimination embedded in law over time without similarly drawing in foreign fighters… perhaps from the Philippines and Mexico and Argentina to blow up those evil Dubliners.

        The same cannot be said of Islam when sharia is embedded into law. There is no similar moderation, There is no similar liberalization.

        Why not, Pink?

        I think – as does Ali – the reason is because the vast majority of the population is Muslim, and that means respecting misogyny as the right and proper way to enable the ‘perfect word of God’ into law. The same is not the case for Christianity… split into thousands of sects each having to adapt to secular enlightenment values for their popular support.

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      • “If Christianity were to become embedded in the state”? You mean it hasn’t? You mean laws all over Europe had nothing to do with Christian doctrine?
        National Catholicism took away all women’s rights which had been afforded by the Second Republic. That lasted for much of the 20th century. A woman could not work without her husband or father cosigning her work contract. The sale of contraceptives was illegal until the year after I was born. A number of Eastern European countries are attempting to resurrect abortion bans- that puts Christianity squarely in the same misogynistic category as the other Abrahamic religions.

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      • tildeb says:

        I was referring to all the countries of the West that to varying degrees are always under attack by the religious to privilege this one or that one in this matter or that, and only some of which have Christian privilege embedded in their law. The point is that these are subject to revision and note that your examples have been, and or are, undergoing moderation and liberalization. We need the same to happen to Islamist countries, but when someone steps up and publicly criticizes this lack of moderation, the person gets smacked down by being blacklisted as a bigot. This smack down by so many Westerners is completely and utterly misguided and deeply objectionable.

        Like

      • This last comment highlights the mistake you’re making. Christianity and Judaism aren’t suddenly “more liberal”. Stoning is still in the Old Testament and beheading is still in the Talmud. In the 1820’s and 30’s defences of slavery were articulated based on the Old and New Testaments. In the 20th century it was based on Christianity that gays were persecuted in allegedly enlightened countries (meanwhile Muslim Morocco was a haven where marginalized North American and European gays escaped to to be treated with dignity.) So you can’t look at evidence in a vacuum. You’re picking and choosing evidence that supports this racist narrative and ignoring the overwhelming evidence that disproves it. I leave you with a photo of something that’s not a Burkini. That’s a Spanish official measuring the amount of uncovered skin between the bottom of a woman’s bathing suit and her knee. That law was in place for much of the 20th century- and men in blue uniforms and white shoes went up and down the beaches checking.

        Like

      • tildeb says:

        I’m not claiming Christianity and other religions are naturally more liberal and moderate; I’m saying they are capable of adapting to moderation and liberalization by demonstration. Islam, in very stark contrast, is far more brittle in that the very identity of the religion itself is based on anti-enlightenment values (like misogyny, for example) which is then demonstrated in sharia. I think you cannot change the latter without ‘breaking’ the former.

        And this is where we get to the main point you keep failing to address: the utter absurdity of so many Western liberals equating criticism of anti-enlightenment principles and practices that harm the rights and freedoms of real people who are classified by the state to be Muslims as ‘bigotry’ against Muslims and worthy of being blacklisted.

        Like

      • Except you haven’t shown evidence for this modernization or liberalization of the religions themselves. In fact, the Orthodox sects of each one are a good example of how the essence of the religion is very much unchanged. There are neighbourhoods in Israel where Jewish women are treated as second class citizens. Expected to cover themselves and not speak to men they don’t know. Mixing is frowned upon. That’s the religion. People not following religious rules is the liberalism.
        The way you’re framing it, it’s as if not following religious rules is somehow a characteristic of the religion itself. Not following Christian doctrine is Christian? Not following Jewish doctrine is Jewish? That’s nonsensical. Especially because we know that if given any power whatsoever Christians and Jews will and do try to impose their religion by law. By prohibitions, by illegalizations. By bathroom bills and sodomy laws. Now in Israel one of the matters in the courts is if teams can play football on the Sabbath. Yes, seriously. The point is if any of the three are applied in their pure state, what we have is misogyny, violence, aggression and sectarianism.
        You can’t seriously be implying misogyny isn’t an integral part of Judaism and Christianity?

        Like

      • rorys2013 says:

        All religions based on belief systems are in fact infinitely malleable in their adherents hands. Thus to argue with them is the equivalent of trying to climb to the top of a greasy pole.

        Like

      • tildeb says:

        You’re not getting it so let me put it this way: should you be blacklisted for criticizing these religiously inspired actions?

        Like

      • Nawaz & Ali should have been blacklisted by sceptics for misidentifying a problem and then proposing to be *themselves* the cure to the misidentified problem.
        Moderates don’t need them. Extremists will remain unaffected by them. So we have to ask ourselves what purpose they serve other than to enrich themselves and/or serve as props for other media personalities who also choose to instrumentalise bombast and controversy.

        Like

      • tildeb says:

        This comment reveals the extent of the disconnect you have to maintain your bias. Would you like to ‘enrich yourself’ with needing 24 hour security body guards? Is Harris and the Hitch’s estate ‘enriching themselves’ helping to pay for it… for decades? Are the Irish critics of, say, anti-abortion laws supported by the Catholic Church having to do the same from Catholic assassins?

        Come on, Pink. Answer my question honestly: should you be blacklisted under the banner of being labeled a bigot for daring to criticize Catholic anti-enlightenment practices?

        Like

      • No one was blacklisted. People were labelled as users of hate speech. It’s exactly what they did.
        And you’re proposing a false dilemma. People can want to enrich themselves and need 24 hour protection at the same time. Nawaz and Ali are proposing fraud. They can no more *reform* Islam than you or I could reform the Vatican and Catholic doctrine- or than Valerie could reform Evangelicalism. They are not reformers they are snake oil salespeople pretending to have a level of influence that is simply not there. Or are you positing books co-authored with Sam Harris have significant impact when sold outside Madrasas to people who have no hope or future and are planning to strap bombs around their bodies because they have nothing left to lose?

        Like

      • Sha'Tara says:

        I can vouch for the correctness of your comments. I was born in France, under Catholicism, then raised in Canada, also under Catholicism. Sadly, people don’t see the problems with what they have accommodated themselves to; they don’t see the harm their “comfort zone” does to those who do not want to be a part of it, or those who are its silent and silenced victims. To survive these times organized (recognized, state religion) has no where to go but up, and that is exactly what it is attempting to do: to regain its position at the top of the power pyramid. This isn’t just a Western concern, it’s happening globally. Organized (power) religion is a great evil. Only through its own propaganda has it ever been seen as having any kind of beneficial value. One could say it has encouraged charity but that is a blatant lie: to get the money into its own hands it had to design a scam process whereby the sheeple would freely donate that money. Then to make it look legit, a tiny amount is doled out to “the poor.” The Clinton Foundation is designed from that concept. Does it work? Are religious organizations poor? Are the Clintons poor?

        Liked by 1 person

      • An interesting example of this bias is in regards to the Rotherham child abuse case. British press articles (and the comments beneath them) often made the connection between the socio-cultural identities of the criminals (Pakistani Muslims) to the crime, as if the link was causal. Oddly enough I still have not seen propositions of the same kind applied to the much larger Catholic child abuse scandal- or the systematic, worldwide cover-up.

        Like

    • Hi Sha’Tara – Because I don’t want to in any way normalize the greed of the Catholic Church–which as institutions go is profoundly abnormal–let me point out that the Clinton Foundation has given away far, far more money than the Clintons own, which is the opposite for the Church. Also, no foundation that i am aware of takes in money from the most destitute people, promising that in exchange they will receive something that no living person ever will be able to assess. So the Church’s lack of accountability is on a totally different scale than any rich person’s foundation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sha'Tara says:

        “the Church’s lack of accountability is on a totally different scale than any rich person’s foundation.” Perhaps, perhaps not. How deep would you go to find the link, the sameness in both operations? In actual fact Valerie, the Church is much more honest and above board. It has its hands out and its lies are so blatant even a child can see them. The riches that the rich give each other come from oppression, extortion, slave labour, endless war against society, particularly the most innocent, and the decimation of the living environment. Surely you know that? Blood money all the way to the bank and to the foundation. Why do the rich even have “foundations”? To hide; to launder their ill-gotten goods. “Woe to those who give gifts to the rich” applies in both cases.

        Like

      • I believe the Clinton foundation has one of the highest ratings according to the watchdogs regarding how much money is actually used for charity- something like 85% if I’m not mistaken.

        Like

  6. Extraordinary piece.

    Like

  7. JEFFRY A FORSYTHE says:

    nicely written, thanks. i find this topic difficult mostly because i am still encumbered with my original sin of religious dogma. specifically, i reject the christian admonition to love the sinner but hate the sin. while this can be construed to be similar to your arguments, it lacks the rigor of condemning ideas that are hateful or destructive as opposed to human behaviours driven from anatomical or physiological or environmental factors. example, a gay person really can’t feel loved if their sexuality is condemned as deviant and immoral, not possible. however it is very possible and even vital to our well being that we do measure, critically evaluate, postulate synthesize model and arrive at conclusive judgements on ideas so as to attempt to advance some and diminish others in their relative population on our collective meme pool. i find useful the modern synthesis of evolution, descent with direction determined by what works best as measured by what leaves the most copies. one could think of christian as a species or islam as a species if restricting the notion of religion to being ideas not adherents. one could then critically evaluate secular humanism and the GOP, or right wing white evangelical dogma, … and make honest objective evaluations. then we might get to where we could extend our scientific method to our ideologies and make it frequent that we would listen to a new moral idea and say, “wow, i hadn’t seen this data, it really changes my moral models and i will adjust accordingly. idea speciation, a germ line as it were for systems of ideas (like a gene pool), are made up of memes who cooperate and compete for relative dominance in the ongoing set of memes that make uo the system of mems that constitute idea species, phenotypes? seems a useful model.
    thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Joe Reedholm says:

    Hello Valerie,

    Love your posts. Election or something like it must have energized you to be putting out so many the last month–is a lot of thinking/writing. This article is by a local Georgetown guy who bought a full page ad taking the Republican party to task. Unfortunately Brian Bolton does not have an email address that he gives out. Thought you not be part of FFRF, so here is a link:

    https://ffrf.org/publications/freethought-today/item/26587-living-in-a-fundamentalist-enclave-brian-bolton

    Like

  9. Sha'Tara says:

    Reblogged this on ~Burning Woman~ and commented:
    While the article is self-explanatory, I want to comment on two things. One, as Earthians slowly abandon their Iron Age patriarchal religions, particularly in the so-called “West,” there is a new and very organized Religion rising to take their place: Mythological Science. Beware of that new god as he is even more dangerous than the previous one. The second thing I will say is, when you read “Christianity” in the article, think “All Organized Religions” for they all have the same root cause and life under any of those religions is equally oppressive, particularly to women and children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katatonic says:

      What does “mythological science” mean?

      Science is a process, a method for determining the best explanation for observed reality through hypothesis, experimentation, analysis, and revision. The best science has replication, too.

      Like

      • Sha'Tara says:

        Mythological science is a grass roots growing belief “in” science as some force, some power that somehow can fix things, much like belief in the old gods. Of course people who buy into science as some kind of cure all will insist that science is all about testing to arrive at working truth and then applying that truth to everyday life. Unfortunately that isn’t the case at all. Science, meaning of course the high priests in white coats working for various none-scientific, profit and power motivated forces, have agendas: to please the masters and fill their pocket books. Perhaps the most blatant “science of lies” is psychiatry with its growing list of “mental diseases” that require no physical tests of any kind to be entered in their holy bible, and those diagnosed, to be pumped full of drugs and vaccines to the triumph of Big Pharma and centralized medicine. If you want to know more, check out Jon Rappoport’s blog – he’s got some very interesting statistics on rogue science. This isn’t my blog, so any further discussion should be done there. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

    • metalnun says:

      I am really glad you mentioned “Mythological Science.” I have addressed it in my blog and am relieved to find that I am not the only person who has observed this phenomenon. http://metalnun.blogspot.com/2014/07/religion-science-and-dogmatism.html

      Like

  10. Sha'Tara says:

    Re-blogged this on ~burning woman~ blog and commented there. Obviously I agree with the points made here. How easy it is to hate on this world. How difficult it is, in the beginning, to teach oneself to practice compassion, ignoring labels.

    Like

  11. Paul Douglas says:

    Excellent presentation, Valerie! I’m gonna bookmark this one. I wish I thought as clearly as you write!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. rorys2013 says:

    Any religion based on a set of beliefs is standing on quick sand for two reasons. One, all our thoughts[beliefs] are just mental models of things, they simply are not and cannot be what they are modeling no matter how accurate they might be. Two, it is possible to create a model for something that does not exist. Religions postulate the existence of a God separate from the Universe and ourselves. I know of no repeatable experiment that anybody can perform that proves the existence of such an independent God. Thus it makes absolutely no logical sense to me to follow any belief based Religion.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. AlexanderTheGoodEnough says:

    Brilliantly considered and written, as per usual. But FWIW, I do detect some echos of “love the sinner, hate the sin” in your commentary. Just sayin’…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well said. Thank you. This is a thoughtful, kind, and thorough analysis. I am going to bookmark it for future reference.

    Like

  15. Gunther says:

    “I hate the fact that Christianity gives people a way to feel good without being good—that when what matters above all to God is belief, people can be judgmental, abusive and greedy or can prey on the poor or sell arms to dictators—and still feel good about themselves because they go to church on Sunday, are saved by the blood of the lamb. After all, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

    Yeah, I can’t understand why many Christians seem to have this attitude that no matter how bad they treat people, they will let God into their hearts while lying on their death beds and God will forgive them of their horrible sins and let them into his kingdom. If that was true, then Adolf Hitler and all his followers are in Heaven despite what they did.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. surrelativity says:

    As a True Christian , I hate all those things too.

    Like

    • Arkenaten says:

      You mean you accept as truth that, Jesus of Nazareth, a narrative construct from a disgusting rag of a book came back from the dead and an entire doctrine was created just so Christians had a supernatural excuse to persecute, conquer,steal, and slaughter millions upon millions of people all in the name of Jesus Christ … A-farking-men.
      That sort of True Christian?

      And you’re proud to be a ”True Christian” are you?
      Really? My goodness!

      Liked by 2 people

  17. I really liked your post. I have a long history struggling with the same issues. I count myself as freethinking with a complicated Christian history. I have been on a quest most of my life but not all. I find your writing inspiring. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. David Miller says:

    Brilliantly said!

    Like

  19. Richard says:

    What I struggle with regularly — and the struggle has been especially intense lately, as I’m in touch with many people from my evangelical past who it appears are voting for DT because they hate HRC, and they’ve been influenced by the pro-DT rationalizations of their “spiritual” leaders — is, At what point do I become complicit in something already pretty terrible but potentially very abhorrent by continuing to try to maintain relationships with these people? They are, for example, fellow MKs, the people with whom I grew up; their still-living parents, my “uncles” and “aunts” from those days; people who I know from the fundamentalist college I attended; and, most troubling of all, members of my immediate family. I’m always thinking about how Germans were suckered and sucked into fascism and being complicit in atrocities by not denouncing friends and family who were active supporters of Nazism. When I call and chat with my 85-year-old dad who has bought the line that DT, through his Supreme Court appointments, is going to save the U.S. from sliding further into moral depravity, and I carefully avoid talking about anything but his and Mom’s health, and the weather, am I being complicit in something potentially apocalyptic in its awfulness? What’s the right thing to do? “Unfriend” all these deluded — and dangerous, because of their potential for bringing an insane person to power — people on FB? Denounce them publicly? Would either of thee do any actual good? I doubt it.

    Like

  20. Anders Møller-Stray says:

    I hate the way in which she accuses all christians of the viewpoints of some christians. I hate the way she ignores that quote a number of modern christians don’t believe in any of the things on her list. I hate the utter dishonesty in letting the worst christians be the spokespersons for all of us.

    I am really happy quite a lot of atheists are better people than her.

    Like

    • Anders, In the very first sentences I defined the kind of Christianities that I critique, which specifically are not open, inquiring forms of faith. Secondly, in no place to i accuse all Christians of holding these points of view, because I simply don’t believe that. Thirdly, you miss my point, which is that i make no accusation at all against Christians but rather a series of accusations, if you will, against Christian theologies, the Bible itself, and the Catholic hierarchy.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rory Tennes says:

      Anders, Not sure what you were reading but what you described is not what Valerie said at all. Perhaps that is why you are a believer? You do not seem to be able to comprehend what you read very well. Valerie took great effort to make herself clear about several of the wrong accusations you made.

      Like

  21. Rory Tennes says:

    Dr Tarico
    That was a fabulous explanation of the real issue of christian belief and why to hate IT , not the believer.

    Like

  22. LAWRENCE says:

    Dear Ms. Tarico:

    I don’t hate you and appreciate your courage in our country where getting out of line is dangerous {i.e unless one is very rich, making a whole lot of money for the very rich or entertaining the very rich}.

    To me, non-belief in God is not the opposite of belief, but just another belief system;

    I am the opposite of belief: A person who knows he does not understand and rejects all human attempts at so-called understanding of what any of this is really about.

    I knew my great-grandmother, her parents were slaves. Not only did I barely miss slavery by 3 generations, but by being born in Detroit in 1955 I avoided Alabama oppression my grandfather went through.

    I don’t understand, but I am not mad just aware that either I am going to find out from the otherworldly source of all of this or I will just have to continue to observe a very rich & powerful cabal destroy life for 6.9997 billion people only because staying on top is more important than justice, mercy, love compassion, education and a livable way of life.

    Love, Lawrence

    Like

    • Perry says:

      “To me, non-belief in God is not the opposite of belief, but just another belief system;”

      That’s like illogically saying not collecting stamps is just another collecting hobby. That’s not true for collecting stamps, and it is not true for non-belief in God. It is oxymoronic to say non-belief is belief.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rorys2013 says:

        A belief is just a thought set in concrete by emotion. If a person can remove the emotion from the thought then it is no longer a belief. When it is no longer a belief then the person is able to dispassionately check whether the thought is a representation of real experience or not. Such a person is not entangled in beliefs or non-beliefs.

        Like

  23. metalnun says:

    Another insightful article! As an Episcopalian I share the same list of grievances with regard to fundamentalism.

    Like

  24. bscritic says:

    Another great article, Dr. Tarico. A very concise summary of much of what is wrong with religion, specifically Christianity. I agree with your challenge to hate ideas but not the people who hold them. I just find it very difficult to do that. Ideas don’t cause problems without someone to express them. That’s why I really like Peter Boghossian’s approach in *A Manual for Creating Atheists.* He focuses on how people arrive at the truth. There are effective and ineffective ways of searching for truth and knowledge. Faith is an ineffective way. Using reason, logic and evidence is an effective way. Your way of analyzing Christian claims is effective. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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