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03 September 2012

Reactionary Christianity

Did you see the news in late August when the American Atheists organization put up some billboards for the Democratic National Convention? Fox News reported on it, then the advertising company was bombarded with "a national outpouring of 'vitriol, threats and hate speech against our staff, volunteers and Adams Outdoor Advertising,'" (according to a spokesperson for American Atheists).

Fox News' original story is here and the post-billboard story from the Bradenton Herald is here.

As a result of the outpouring of negative feedback, whether or not it was as ugly as the American Atheists spokesperson described (I wouldn't be surprised if it was), the advertising company and the atheist organization decided to take the signs down.

In other words, Christians "won."

Or did we?

In the original Fox News article, a pastor from Christian Life Center said, "Of course it’s not appropriate, it’s never appropriate to insult another person, it’s never appropriate to disrespect another person."

I have nothing disparaging to say about that pastor because I realize that there's little context within which I can weigh that statement. Taking it at face value, though, the first thing I thought of when I read his statement was what Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12. "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (NLT) Now, Jesus didn't give specifics on how to react, but the implication is that we're not to retaliate. In verses 38-40 He says not to resist an evil person and if something slaps us on the right cheek, we should offer the other one, too.

I believe reactionary "Christianity" messed up again. Although the deluge of responses surely wasn't made strictly by the Christian community, we can safely say that they will get "credit" for it. Here are some questions I have about this set of events:

  1. What does this incident tell non-believers about Christians and by extension, about Jesus?
  2. What would have been a better response, if any, from the Christian community?
  3. If I'm wrong about all this, what am I missing or misunderstanding?

The and American Atheists logos above are the property of their respective owners.


Joe said...

Wow. I hate this post.

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