Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

The Way Not to Talk About Christianity, Part II

To continue with the list of inane objections people make to Christianity:

2. So many atrocities have been committed in the name of Christianity and so many horrible things are being done by Christians at this very moment! How can you identify with something like that?

People who raise this weird objection in a triumphant manner seem to forget that this can be said not only about many different groups of people but also about humanity in general. Human beings have perpetrated many atrocities, and truly horrible things have been done in the name of humanity. So how can you love your mother? Isn’t she a human being, too?

This kind of an argument is similar to the one radical feminists often make. Men have historically oppressed women. Many men have raped women. Ergo, if you happen to love a person who is male, you are a traitor to feminism and a collaborator in the cause of oppressing women.

I was once told by somebody who was burning with righteous indignation that after the scandals with pedophile priests, any person who identified as a Christian was complicit in the acts of pedophilia. This kind of reasoning is so mind-bogglingly unintelligent that it always stuns me when seemingly well-educated people rely upon it.

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45 thoughts on “The Way Not to Talk About Christianity, Part II

  1. conniewalden on said:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Connie

  2. I saw an interesting quote on this yesterday in class while watching scenes from “Elmer Gantry.” The movie started with a message stating that while everybody has a right to practice their religion in the way they choose, some people (Pentecostalists, in the case of the movie) make a mockery of their religion and abuse the first amendment of the Constitution. Therefore, even though the makers of the movie supported freedom of religion, they believed that the extreme revivalism depicted in the movie was wrong, and due to the controversial matters dealt with in the movie, “impressionable children” should not watch it. (The movie was also produced in the 1960’s, which explains the last statement.)

    • I’m a passionate believer in a complete and total separation of church and state. I don’t understand how anybody can be a Christian and not believe in it. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”. I think it can’t be any clearer.

      • I’m confused. The quote was only saying that while the makers of the film believed in Christianity, they disagreed with extreme revivalists. Did I appear to be implying that they didn’t believe in Christianity?

        • No, of course not. I can’t see how anybody could have drawn this kind of conclusion from the statement you quote. I consider many outgrowths of Christianity to be extremely barbaric, deluded and scary. But that has nothing to do with rejecting the faith itself.

          • I agree. And yet there are people who don’t make the distinction between different sects and even smaller groups of individuals. The atrocities mentioned in the post were atrocities, and they were committed in the name of Christianity. They’re generalizing Christianity based the the acts of relatively few Christians. It happens with other religions, too: where I live, there are people who would argue that all Muslims are bad; they don’t recognize the separation between the Taliban and other Muslims or citizens (who may not necessarily be Muslim) of Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

      • Separation, yes…Exclusion, NO. The founding fathers pretty much invented our system of government (constitutional republic) with the help of some pretty smart guys, like David Hume, John Knox and Descartes. The term “Wall of Separation” is NOT found in any of the founding documents. It was coined in a private letter from Jefferson to an Anglican Minister. None of the Founders of this great political experiment thought for a moment that the U.S. Constitution and subsequent Bill of Rights prevented citizens from expressing their faith openly, without reservation, and often while participating in the political process. This is obvious in all their communications and correspondences, both public and private.

  3. I agree with your overall assuptions, I think. My only comment is that Christianity, although a reasonable proposition, is not to be understood strictly at the intellectual level. It is a deeply personal experience which is emotional, spiritual and mental in nature. And it is not even in the realm of possibility to expect someone…anyone who has not experienced it, to understand it.

  4. If I may diverge, I am very new to blogging. How can I include a link to your blog in my own? Thanks, Clarissa.

    • You could just add a link to one of the posts. Or, you could go to the left-side panel, choose the box Appearances, then the box Widgets, and enter a link as a text into the right-hand panel of the blog.

      I know, it’s a little confusing to get how WordPress does it. It took me forever to stop messing up the template. And it still happens from time to time.

  5. I think you should write a piece entitled, “How NOT to ‘FEEL’ about Christianity…Much more challenging, I think.

  6. Is there another shoe that’s about to drop? Surely there are no closets here. I think all of us understand that the Christian community itself is incredibly diverse, and that one cannot generalize about such things.

    • You are too optimistic about people and too nice to them. :-)

    • Not only is Christendom extremely diverse. But throughout history it has gone through many phases and evolutions…and even revolutions (reformation). Even in its most ideal formulation, the Apostolic age, was filled with schisms and uncertainty. To lump all of Christianity together and generalize about it is deluded at best, and possibly even intentionally deceptive. My idea regarding, “The way NOT to ‘feel’ about Christianity” was based on the fact that anyone with their intellect engaged would never attempt to be so general and vague about it. Thus, they must be speaking from their emotions…

  7. “This kind of an argument is similar to the one radical feminists often make…, if you happen to love a person who is male, you are a traitor to feminism and a collaborator in the cause of oppressing women.”

    I find it hard to believe that anyone argues that. Can you quote one radical feminist arguing that if you love a man, you are a traitor to feminism?

  8. The Word of God definitely takes precedence over any other ideas. But the ideas that became The United States of America did not come directly from scripture. That’s because the details are not in scripture. However, the founding fathers knew that, without religion, supported and encouraged by the government, this new form of rule would not endure. Their idea was relatively simple: a population without morality would not produce a culture where freedom was likely to last. There is no lasting, meaningful morality without religion (or faith in a moral God), and there cannot be freedom without morality. So, without religion encouraged by the government, morality…thus, freedom…will not endure. They never intended for government to be hostile, or even indifferent to, religion, drive it out of the public schools (which were established SOLELY for the purpose of teaching America’s children the WORD OF GOD, believe it, or not), or keep it separated from the public forum. Look into it if you doubt.

  9. Your post quotes a polemic saying that the crux of women’s oppression is that patriarchical rape culture considers women to always have given consent. Nothing in that passage suggests that “if you love a man, you are a traitor to feminism”.

    I tried to follow the link to the original post, but it lead to a page saying “The website you were trying to reach is temporarily unavailable.”

    I still don’t believe anyone argues that. Can you quote any feminist actually arguing that if you love a man, you are a traitor to feminism?

    • That link was, indeed, down for a while. But yes, I can quote tons of radical feminists who do that.

      “When a woman reaches orgasm with a man she is only collaborating with the patriarchal system, eroticizing her own oppression.”
      – Sheila Jeffreys: professor, political activist and author

      “Heterosexual intercourse is the pure, formalized expression of contempt for women’s bodies.”
      Andrea Dworkin

      “In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.”
      Catharine MacKinnon, quoted in Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women’s Studies.

      • A little warmer; colder again; cold.

        All those quotes are about heterosexual sex. My question was: Can you quote any feminist actually arguing that if you love a man, you are a traitor to feminism?

        • I obviously wasn’t talking about parent-child love in my post but about sexual love. Hence, the quotes. Please, pay attention.
          Seriously, how difficult is it to figure out that “love for a man” cannot possibly refer to anything other than sexual love? Nobody loves their son, grandfather and uncle as men, do they? Or have you heard any non-disturbed people refer to their father as ” a man I love”?

          • “Parent-child love”? I wasn’t talking about that either.

            “Seriously, how difficult is it to figure out that “love for a man” cannot possibly refer to anything other than sexual love?”

            I did not realize when you wrote “if you happen to love a person who is male”, that by “love” you meant “fuck”. I’ve never used the word that way.

            • No, I wasn’t talking about fucking. I was talking about sexual love. Is this a concept that is alien to you for some reason?

              What other kind of love can you experience towards a male person? Wouldn’t you agree that any other form of love would have nothing to do with their maleness?

              • “I was talking about sexual love. … What other kind of love can you experience towards a male person?”

                How about romantic love? Also, platonic love, agape, pragma, and limerence, among others.

                “Wouldn’t you agree that any other form of love would have nothing to do with their maleness?”

                No, not necessarily.

  10. No. I do not believe THAT is unconstitutional. Given the choice between going to jail (which typically destroys a man/woman’s life, at some level) or attending a worship-type service of the OFFENDER’S CHOICE consistently for 1 year…hmmmmm…let’s see….I don’t see the government imposing a certain religion on anyone. If evangelical Christianity were the ONLY choice, I might agree that it is an unconstitutional law. But, I think this particular city ordinance is ingenious and its success rate will bear this out.

    • Why not give criminals a choice between jail and, say, a year’s supply of free ice-cream? I think the scheme would be very successful, as every offender will choose the ice-cream. What do you think?

  11. Why be so facetious? Having been in many jails, and many churches, as well, I know what I am talking about. Jails don’t offer a person much. Most prisoners are consumed with two things: surviving the day, and getting out. In church, or any type of faith-based institution, the people there are occupied with higher goals. Namely, helping their fellows and making the world a better place for all. Ice cream doesn’t do either…Please try to be more understanding and less critical ;-D)>

    • The point of incarceration is not to offer criminals much. It is to punish them for the crime. It sounds like to you – and the people of Alabama – going to church is punishment equal to being jailed.

      • Patrick on said:

        To be contrary – the point of jail is NOT punishment. It is an ineffective mash-up of rehabilitation, education and punishment. If the church in Alabama can help turn these people into functioning, contributing, civil members of society, then I’m all for it. Sending petty criminals to prison to learn how to become great criminals is profoundly stupid.

        • In a country where death penalty exists and is widely used arguing that incarceration is not about punishment is very strange. I don’t think that anybody who knows anything about the US jail system can seriously say it has anything to do with anything other than punishment.

          Offering criminals a choice between jail and church is very offensive to the feelings of religious people.

          • Patrick on said:

            There is a difference between the intent of the system and the way the system actually plays out. Below is the text from the Alabama Department of corrections Mission Statement. (easily found on their website)
            ADOC Mission Statement

            The mission of the Alabama Department of Corrections is to confine, manage and provide rehabilitative programs for convicted felons in a safe, secure and humane environment, utilizing professionals who are committed to public safety and to the positive re-entry of offenders into society.

            Not a word about PUNISHMENT.

          • Once again, Clarissa, I must beg to differ. Anyone who has experienced being born again from above knows that it is the only solution to truly change a persons heart. The idea of strictly punishment for crime is how the penitentiary system got started in the early 19th century. It has since evolved into the moral morass described above by Patrick. Unless prison has changed dramatically since 1980, it is like living in hell where big, bad men cry themselves to sleep now and then (I’ve heard the sobs) because they have thrown their lives away and disappointed everyone that loves them. Granted, some just don’t get it because their hearts are black and hardened by a world that doesn’t care about them. So, getting them around others who love them, just because God demands that His children walk in love toward their neighbors, BEFORE their hearts are completely polluted with hatred and anger is a very good idea. I was saved in a solitary confinement cell in a penitentiary in 1979. And I’ve never been in ANY legal trouble since…not even a speeding ticket! So I think I might know more about jail and religion (I really mean God) than you do, If I am wrong, please correct me. Peace to you all ;-D)>

            • So imagine there is a person who is in jail for a very serious crime. Let’s say they are serving a life sentence. And then they say they have found God and have been born again. Should they be released from jail as a result? Or serve out their sentence?

              It’s admirable that you turned your life around, but how can anybody know that another person isn’t just faking it to be released? How can this be a serious criterion in deciding anybody’s guilt if it is simply impossible to know.

      • I think their motives have little to do with punishment or the lack thereof. They simply want a precedent for religion operating through official channels, for court-mandated religion, and of course a captive audience for their Gospel message. Their legislation is not aimed at the convicts. It is aimed at people like you who believe in separation of church and state.

        • I think they are trying to kill two birds with the same stone here. But you are absolutely right in that the erosion of the separation btw Church and state is central here. We have to be very vigilant to prevent this from happening. Each of such cases should be called attention to and discussed for the barbarity it represents.

  12. Pingback: Why Offering Criminals a Choice Between Jail and Attending Church Is a Horrible Idea « Clarissa's Blog

  13. Last time I checked, barbarity did not include speedy trials, endless appeals, and 10 years of life that is all being paid for by the taxpayers. Barbarity deals more with a prompt and sloppy execution…period. Please try not to exaggerate so much…

  14. I believe each case should be decided on its own merits. In some cases, I would say, “Yes.” While in others, “No.” Anyone who has spent time dealing with multiple children knows that with some kids you just have to look cross at them, and that is enough. Others need to visit the woodshed regularly…Everyone is different. We are born with a unique set of characteristics, I think. And life experiences add up as we go along to affect our world views and self-views. And what are adults but big kids, anyway?

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