Before I get started, I want to welcome you to my 200th post! Hm. Maybe this blog thing will catch on.
Okay, confession time. One of my deep dark liberal Atheist secrets is that I read online comics.
Still reading? Heh.
One of the online comics I read is “Something Positive” by R. K. Milholland. Milholland was raised in Texas and understands the whole Texas fundamentalism thing that I was raised around. His comic frequently discusses some of my favorite Texanisms.
In his 2006 Halloween story, Milholland ‘spoofs’ a Texas Halloween ‘Hell House.’ Unfortunately, he actually had to tone down what was going on in REAL Hell Houses to create his ‘spoof’. That’s a sad illustration of what’s going on in fundamentalist Christianity. From Milholland:
… the “Holy Ghost Stories” storyline upset some people – including my father. I made a promise to my dad long ago to avoid certain topics. Sadly, when I was researching the Hell Houses and learned some did incorporate a 9/11 room (one even centered around an entire terrorist attack)… well, I sort of lost it. Normally my storylines are about exaggeration. In regards to hell houses I found myself trying to understate things and omit some acts that occur that filled me with WAY too much rage.
This goes a long way toward showing why people like Sam Harris have less respect for Christian moderates than they do for fundamentalist, literalist Christians. A Christian who believes that the Bible is the literal truth and tries to create legislation or make changes that enforce his views is at least understandable – this sort of person lives with a skewed world view, and is acting in a logical fashion given that he believes his worldview is truth.
But a Christian moderate… this is the sort of person who makes excuses for the Bible and for his or her religion. For example, Jesus was clear about divorce – it was only allowed when the wife was guilty of sexual infidelity. Yet moderate Christians have ignored Jesus and accepted divorce in the cases of abuse and neglect, of either partner. The majority of Christian churches will happily marry couples into their second (or third) marriages. This is a good moderate position that is moral IN SPITE OF Biblical teaching. The immorality of Jesus’s words are brushed over, or handily ‘interpreted’ to mean something else.
Christian moderates make excuses for the Bible. They “interpret” the Bible to mean something other than what hardliners have said it means. They are “accepting” of their brothers and sisters in Christ, and tend to either make excuses for them, or to ignore them as not being, “True Christians.”
Moderate Christians are enablers as assuredly as a battered wife enables her spouse to continue drinking and beating her – making excuses. “Oh yes, it’s a black eye – I ran into the door again. I’m so clumsy!” How is that different from ignoring the hateful spewings of James Dobson, Gary Bauer, and Ted Haggard?
Milholland talks about enabling moderate Christians. He adds some very spicy asides that I’ve removed for greater clarity (but please, go read them!) From his blog:
Thirdly, to my Christian readers: … More than a couple of you … felt this storyline was portraying Christians as the likes of [Fred] Phelps. This was not my intent. However, I have some awful news for you.
The problem of being lumped with them won’t go away until you become more vocal.
People assume most Christians are heavy-handed, pushy, intolerant bigots bent of dominating any other culture or idea and supplanting it with their own whims because, for the most part, the ones who speak up the most ARE heavy-handed, pushy, intolerant bigots bent on dominating any other culture or idea and supplanting it with their own whims. It sucks. It’s horrible. And it’s what everyone of any faith, political idea, or lifestyle has to deal with.
As I’ve said elsewhere – the reason why Atheists, Nonbelievers, Secular Humanists and the like are finding their voice is because of the rise of fundamentalist Christianity. I believe that the reason why fundamentalism has succeeded in growing powerful is because moderate Christians have not just failed, but refused to speak out against it.
The seeds of “batshit insanity” don’t have to be watered to promote growth – simply ignoring them creates an atmosphere of benign neglect that encourages a flourishing hatefull Christian community.