There is one aspect of religion that I am absolutely sick of, and I refuse to tolerate it any longer. It’s by far the most annoying, most potentially hurtful, most insulting, most absolutely useless aspect of religious culture I have ever encountered. I’m sure Christianity is not the only religion in which this occurs, but it’s the realm of my experience.
It is the tendency for Christians to accuse each other of not being “real” Christians.
I have heard this accusation a hundred times, both as a target and as a bystander. You would think that being an atheist, I would be divested of this intra-religion finger-pointing. I didn’t even really become aware of the extent of this behavior until I became an atheist, and now I can’t escape it. I hear this crap all the time: I was never a “real” Christian, because if I had been, I’d never have become an atheist. The Christians who I have known must not have been “real” Christians, because “real” Christians aren’t jerks. Most people who claim to be Christian are not “real” Christians.
For the record, I don’t care who is a real Christian and who is not. I don’t care if I have never known a real Christian in my life. I don’t care whether or not you think I was a “real” Christian. I don’t care if you think you are the only real Christian in the world. I don’t want to hear about it.
This name-calling behavior really disgusts me. Why does this bother me so much? It’s not because I don’t like being told I’m wrong. It’s not because I’ve never been smug or self-righteous. But whenever I see Christians pointing their fingers at each other in such a way, it evokes a very strong reaction in me, even if I am just a bystander. I find that kind of verbal behavior offensive to my intelligence, my humanity, and the humanity of others. It serves absolutely no earthly purpose. It doesn’t even serve a heavenly purpose, if you believe in heaven.
Starting now, I wash my hands of it. I don’t tolerate name-calling among the primary students that I teach, and I won’t tolerate it in any part of my life. I remain open and involved in dialogue and discussion about religion and atheism, but I will promptly close my eyes and ears to any mention or suggestion that someone else is not a “real” Christian (or Muslim, or atheist, or Jew, etc.). Any such comments on my blog will be promptly deleted. And I have once or twice encountered atheists lobbing the same type of accusation towards each other, which is just as hurtful and offensive and completely pointless, if not more so. I will not tolerate that either.