“Anti-Christianity” and Who-Hates-Who?

(Version 1.6.2)


“There are people in this world who do not love their fellow human beings,
and I hate people like that!” (Tom Lehrer)

Copyright © 1999, 2002 c.e., Isaac Bonewits

One conservative Christian minister ended an email of disagreement with my essay on the Real Origins of Halloween by saying, “God bless you and thank you for one of the most well written articles of anti-Christianity, and the topic of Halloween I have ever read.” He said this, of course, because to him any criticism of Christian leaders, organizations or doctrines, whether historical, philosophical, political, or theological, constitutes (demonically inspired) “prejudice” against Christianity. The next usual step is to whine about “Christian bashing” and to claim that pointing out Christian bigotry makes us the bigots (see the Halloween essay for my thoughts on the “bashing” nonsense).

Christian institutions controlled Western media for a thousand years before it became “mass media,” and controlled that until a hundred years ago or so. They don’t anymore, so people in North America, Europe, Japan, and a few other places are free to read and to write what we want, without needing the permission of any Pope, Patriarch, Bishop, Priest, Minister or Council of Elders. That’s been pretty rough for the churches that those people run.

If Christianity can’t survive in a world where customers have free access to competing worldviews, then it will go the way of the Edsel, Woolworths and the Soviet Union. And that’s exactly what’s been happening for the last forty years. In the industrialized world, church attendence and membership are at all-time lows, and the opinions of Christian religious leaders are ignored by the vast majority of citizens. This is why, all over the globe, conservative churches are rushing frantically to convert impoverished, uneducated, ignorant people who don’t have access to global mass media, the Internet, and all those historical, philosophical and religious views that contradict church dogma.

In much the same way, of course, Jewish, Islamic and Marxist Fundamentalists are trying desperately to keep their members from hearing differing opinions, by censoring their access to online and offline media. Ironically, their efforts to maintain theological purity through isolation pretty much guarantee, like the corresponding efforts of the Fundamentalist Christian home-schooling movement, that their future generations will have less and less political and social power. Ignorance may be bliss, but it won’t help one to compete in a global economy, nor protect one’s offspring from AIDS.

How many lifetimes will it take before Fundamentalist monotheists realize that they no longer have the political, military or economic power to forcibly define reality (despite the worst efforts of the Religious Reich) for the rest of the planet? Goddess willing, only a few more.

“Real Christians love everybody, even you Evil Devil Worshippers!” my correspondents keep telling me. Well, leaving aside the issue that one doesn’t insult people one supposedly loves, I have to ask why the “real” Christians — who supposedly don’t approve of hate — so seldomly get around to rebuking their hate-mongering brothers and sisters? I have noticed that many Fundamentalist Christians are self-righteous, prideful, hate-filled bullies; while most other Christians (with a few shining exceptions) are simply too cowardly to challenge them. That’s not too surprising, I suppose, since such bullies are seldom reluctant to commit physical violence or other crimes against their “ungodly” opponents or any who would dare to defend them.

As just one example: in 1997 c.e., there was a lunatic on America Online who posted obscene hate messages and pornographic pictures in the guestbook pages of Neopagan websites — and in the guestbooks of Christian websites she deemed not orthodox enough for her! She tried to organize violent opposition to the first “Blessed Be and Meet Me in DC” event that Halloween. Did moderate or liberal Christians, on or off AOL, do anything to stop her? Not that we Neopagans could see. Apparently, they couldn’t be bothered, because she was “one of them.” It took literally thousands of complaints from Neopagan AOLers to AOL management before they canceled her membership for her multiple, months-long violations of the AOL “terms of service” — violations that, had she been a member of any other religion, would have gotten her booted from AOL within days.

This is in keeping with 1500 years of Christian history, that (to many Christians and their leaders) no crime is too atrocious, no lie too despicable, no trick too dishonorable, if done in the name of Jesus. If the victims are non-Christians or heretics, so much the better, they “deserve” punishment for daring to be different. The result has been that for every Christian martyr in history, there have been a hundred victims of religiously motivated Christian violence through crusades, inquisitions, pogroms, slavery, deliberate spreading of diseases, slaughter of those refusing to convert, and lynch mobs — all of which have been repeatedly and officially blessed by Christian leaders, and justified by Christian theologians, for fifteen centuries. In fact, the overwhelming majority of Christians who have been killed for being Christians were the victims, not of Pagans (of any variety), but of their fellow Dualists (Muslims, Nazis, Communists, and members of competing Christian denominations).

Before accusing we Neopagans of being “biased,” perhaps Fundamentalist Christians should clean up their own house first, to provide outside observers with no “justified scandals” to note. If they want to fight “practitioners of evil,” they can start with Scribes and Pharisees in the 700 Club, tax-scammers and election law violators in the Christian Coalition, and all those self-proclaimed Christians in the many white racist movements.

It seems to me, that if Fundamentalist Christians in America were to take one-tenth of the money and energy that they put into trying to eradicate competing spiritual worldviews and put it instead into feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, visiting the sick, and fighting for social justice — just like that rabbi from Nazareth supposedly suggested — our nation and our world could be genuinely transformed into a decent place to live for everyone, instead of just the wealthy and powerful. It might even make them look like good people and their ideas seem worth investigating.

Instead, many people who consider themselves Fundamentalist Christians (and therefore — not too surprisingly — who feel personally powerless) focus all their energy on attacking easy targets: people who believe differently from them. Hate sells, and for 1,500 years it has made ultra-conservative Christian organizations and leaders wealthy and powerful — which is what they they have repeatedly shown, century after century, they are really after.

I’ll refrain from quoting the line about beams and motes, I’m sure most Christians know it well. Instead, I’ll quote the Magical Law of Positive Attraction: “That which is sent, returns.” As long as more Christian hate is sent into the world than Christian love, non-Fundamentalist Christians can expect to receive a lot of suspicion from the non-Christian targets of their Fundamentalist brethren.

As one Fundamentalist Christian put it:

Christians that spread lies and falsehoods about anything, including the facts behind Halloween, should be corrected. If approached with the truth, they should admit it and stop spreading falsehoods. We are directed by God to not bear false witness. If they refuse to stop spreading lies and we believe it to be due to ignorance (sometimes people are so set on an idea that they can not give it up even with overwhelming proof), we should pray for them to see the truth and repent. If they continue to lie knowingly, they should be put out.

I couldn’t agree more.

To all you devote Christians who keep sending me email explaining the error of my ways, please read the following carefully: I understand both your theology and the evidence with which you claim to support it — I just don’t happen to accept either of them, period. Both have relied on tyranny, censorship, and the bloody silencing of all opposing views for too long to retain any credibility or moral high ground. In solidarity with all the slaughtered “heretics” of Christian history, I choose (the root of the word “heresy”) to think for myself. You cannot stop me from doing so, no matter how hard you try.

Ironic, isn’t it, that all modern democracies owe our freedoms to thousands of heretics who chose not to believe the doctrines and practices of the dominant churches of their times. Even the dominant religions within the Religious Reich, a movement that actively seeks to suppress all religious and moral dissent, were denounced as heresies when they were founded.

Yes, I’ve met plenty of “real” Christians, thank you, from a hundred denominations and all the major categories. The nice ones turned out to be heretics, as far as their denominational leaders were concerned. So stop assuming that if I only met a “true” member of your faith or studied your favorite translation of the Bible — usually the King James Version, the one that all non-Fundamentalist Bible translators consider the least accurate one ever made! — that I would agree with you and immediately dump my faith for yours. It ain’t gonna happen. Not with me, not with 99% of the million Neopagans now alive, or of the billions of Paleopagans and Mesopagans.

We have our own beliefs and our own spiritual experiences, and a fairly hefty number of what others would call “miracles” to back them. Stop trying to bully us verbally through hate-mail, or spiritually through prayer, with or without sugar-coated language; none of it will work.

In fact, the words of Fundamentalist ministers Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, giving aid and comfort to their fellow Fundamentalists who attacked America on September 11, 2001, have led me to make A Call to Arms to all the world’s non-Fundamentalists to consciously fight back against the forces of hatred, ignorance and fear incarnated in Fundamentalist movements.

Am I anti-Christian? No. Am I anti-Fundamentalist? Most definitely. And so is every other sane, decent and loving adult.

Vocabulary Note: I’ve spent years trying to come up with appropriate cross-religious terminology to use to refer to particular religious phenomena. “Fundamentalist” is the best term I’ve been able to find to use as shorthand for “ultra-conservative, rigidly dualist, deliberately ignorant, force approving, religious fanatic/extremist.” It at least has the advantage that most English speakers already know it and many of them use it this way, much to the annoyance of some who call themselves Fundamentalist. Mainstream theologians and religious studies professors have not been forthcoming with alternate terminology, perhaps because of their own academic or theological agendas/fashions/limits. I am very much open to suggestions for other terms that will cover this complex but distinctive spiritual/religious dysfunction.

Copyright © 1999, 2002 c.e., Isaac Bonewits. This text file may be freely distributed on the Net, provided that no editing is done, the version number is retained, and everything in this notice box is included. If you would like to be on one or more of Isaac Bonewits’ emailing lists, click here to get subscription information.

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