Thursday, May 14, 2015

This is so normal. We just don't usually say it in front of other people.

The Friendly Atheist has a post about a Christian who posted "the most dickish prayer you'll ever hear" on Twitter after the Nepal earthquake in April:

"Praying 4 the lost souls in Nepal. Praying not a single destroyed pagan temple will b rebuilt & the people will repent/receive Christ."

You may read this and think it's awful. But actually, within American evangelical Christianity, this is SO NORMAL. I can totally imagine this being said from the pulpit of the church I went to in college.

But. We- evangelicals- have to be careful. We know it comes across as ridiculously offensive and hateful, but we don't want people to think of us that way. This is what I believed, but I would never have said it to anyone so directly.

(I'm specifically critiquing the "Praying not a single destroyed pagan temple will b rebuilt" bit. Describing people as "lost souls" and saying they should "repent/receive Christ" are such overused cliches that they've lost all meaning to me. But to explicitly state that you hope for the destruction of someone's religion- well that's a bold statement. As in, yeah that's totally what we teach, but we don't say it so directly.)

Here's the thing about other religions (according to evangelical Christianity): They're wrong. And there's really nothing good to be said about them at all. People are SUPPOSED to be Christians. They are NOT supposed to follow other religions. If you believe in Jesus (like, really really believe for real) then you go to heaven. If not, you go to hell. This is one of the foundational principles of evangelical Christianity, and as I've said before, it ruins everything.

(Also, the temples destroyed in the earthquake were Buddhist and Hindu, not pagan. This guy just uses "pagan" to mean "weird religions that I don't like." They will know we are Christians by our love, yes?)

According to this belief system, if someone is not a Christian, this is a problem. What they really need is to become a Christian. Oh, you are a member of a diverse and beautiful religion, with a rich history, and it's very meaningful for you? TOO BAD. It's the wrong religion, so it's all garbage.

You might think this really unkind and unloving (and yes, I would agree). But for evangelical Christians, who start with the premise "all non-Christians automatically go to hell" and then want to love their neighbors, there's no alternative. You guys, I believe the vast majority of evangelical Christians truly do love others and want to help them. (I believe that about humanity in general- we are made in the image of God.) The problem is, believing in hell perverts and twists that love so it comes out as hate.

If someone tells me about their deeply-held beliefs, beliefs they have come to after a lifetime of careful thought and questioning, and I tell them nope, all of that is wrong and worthless and you need to believe what I tell you- wow, they'll conclude that I don't care about them at all, right? It comes out as hate. But it's because I believe that anything other than Jesus is putting them in danger of eternal torture, and people need to be saved from that... you see, I'm trying to love. (note: nope I totally don't believe that anymore)

Belief in hell screws up EVERYTHING.

Let's get back around to "the most dickish prayer" in the tweet at the beginning of this post. So, after thousands of people died in this massive earthquake, this person on twitter prays that the temples will not be rebuilt. In other words, the earthquake was awful, but also kind of good in a way because it destroyed those bad things that were offering hope and meaning without Jesus and therefore leading people to hell.

To any normal person, this is awful! How can you say something like that, after people- our fellow human beings, made in the image of God- have suffered such a huge tragedy?

But. But. The cold, hard logic is there. If all non-Christians go to hell, then there's no other conclusion. Other religions are bad. The destruction of other religions is good.

And most of us know that's too awful to actually say out loud where non-Christians can hear us. We believe it- I believed it- but actually telling people directly will only push them away from Christianity and closer to hell.

(If you don't want to tell people what you really believe because it's not good news at all, then what you believe is not the gospel.)

But the cold, hard logic is there. And the God of evangelical Christianity is a false god who asks us to believe this is what "justice" means, and silence our hearts when they tell us "no, this is awful."

1 comment:

  1. "If you don't want to tell people what you really believe because it's not good news at all, then what you believe is not the gospel."