Many people have been critical of moderate (that is, most) Muslims for not speaking out against the radical exemplars of their faith. Well, as a Christian, I cannot remain silent when people who claim to be Christian speak and act hatefully. For just as the press (joyfully?) advertises extremist Islam as what most Muslims are, so do they seem to (joyfully?) advertise hateful, ignorant Christianity as representing what most Christianity is. And yet, I have been critical of the rant-ish tone of our public conversation, and so I must somehow rant in a non-rantish way.
First, with respect to the young woman in Oregon who this past weekend chose to end her life with incurable brain cancer within the framework of Oregon law: apparently, a number of people claiming to be Christian have posted all manner of hateful comments regarding her decision (and the Vatican also was not amused, though perhaps they weren’t hateful in their condemnation). Their hateful speech only accomplishes two things: it is hurtful to her family and friends, compounding their grief; and it allows the public an opportunity to once again reach the conclusion that Christians are hateful people who have little compassion. You may not agree with the woman’s decision, but it’s not your life. And her decision did not hurt you in any way. And, let me just say that there are plenty of Christians, including myself, who have no objection to her decision.
Second, someone claiming the mantle of Christianity (and, I believe, the title of pastor) recently suggested that Starbucks uses the “semen of sodomites” in their lattes. I’m sorry to have to reproduce such language, but I know of no other way to communicate the odiousness of it. This sort of nonsense is, of course, being uttered by someone who undoubtedly believes that gay people are horrible, etc. etc. But, again, such statements only accomplish two things: they gross people out (seriously!) and they once again provide an opportunity for people to conclude that Christians are idiots. Well, I can only hope that most people have the good sense to believe that the number of Christians who think that he is right about Starbucks is extremely small. Perhaps 2.
I am continually amazed at how eager the press is to report such preposterous statements as somehow representing what Christianity is. Not every narrow-minded person with a Bible deserves the attention of the press. For example, my church just this weekend hosted a conference on the evils of human-trafficking and what we can do to stop it. About 200 people from around the community came. We had three nationally-known speakers. It was great. It got a little bit of local press. It has not been at all reported beyond the confines of our community. And yet, if I had gotten up and made some bizarre, ridiculous, totally false statement (I’m having trouble imagining what that even might be, but perhaps you can), there’d probably be satellite trucks and news crews combing our parking lot.
I don’t suppose there is any hope that the press will stop focusing on people who have a questionable grasp on reality. It seems to suit them — so much so that I wonder sometimes if there isn’t an agreement among the press that religion must somehow be discredited (but that would be conspiracy thinking, which I try to avoid). So the only hope is that people will see these people for who they are, and recognize that they can’t possibly be representative of the faith they purport to be a part of. If not, then God help us all.