California was hit by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake last week. The damage was minimal, but many Facebook pages expressed support and offers of prayer to their bases.
You’d think there would be no room for politicizing a natural disaster, right? Nope, the ensuing comment thread showed many comments applauding the earthquake as God’s punishment for their acceptance of gays, or others saying they wish a bigger one would come and swallow up all of the liberals.
Luckily, after a few hours, comments apologizing for the harsh words of their peers gravitated toward the top of the thread. These are the kinds of Christians I was used to growing up around: the kind that didn’t care what you believe as long as you’re a good person.
Maybe it was a little naïve to think that Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church were the only ones to shout the messages of love in the church and live the messages of hate everywhere else. Maybe it was a little more naïve to think that the world would be sunshine, rainbows and kumbaya after Phelps died, but it’s astounding how many people don’t actually practice what they preach when it comes to the good ol’ “Love thy neighbor” bit.
Why is it that people can look at a story about a shooting and think, “quick! Grab your guns before the liberals take ’em!” before sending pleasant thoughts in the direction of the victims? It’s hard to tell whether this particular brand of Christianity comes from Fox News or from some really bad preachers, but this is the reason why atheists scoff when we’re called arrogant.
It’s harder still to tell if the comments are being serious or just an attempt to be funny to grab the top comment slot. Liberals can be pretty condescending toward their conservative counterparts, but even when Fred Phelps passed away, there were no top comments that called for picketing the funeral. Most were very respectful and gave genuine condolences. Compare that to any tragedy posted on Fox News and see if you’ll see the same level of compassion.
Even Pope Francis has taken a massive amount of flak from the Fox News crowd. He’s an exemplar of a compassionate Christian, and yet he’s branded as a liberal tool as if he gave a damn about American politics. They’ve vilified one of the best examples of how to be a good Christian simply because he doesn’t persecute gays or atheists. No matter what you believe, you need to dig deep to find something that suggests the Pope is anything but a great man, yet even solid Catholics are being disillusioned by his refusal to be as polarized as some of our Christian right.
That’s not to say that there’s something wrong with modern Christianity, it just shows how far Fox News has pulled its audience. They’ve become extremely untrusting of so many demographics that I’ve already lost count. I probably fall into at least three categories, being a liberal, pro-choice atheist of Arab descent.
It definitely goes to show that religion doesn’t determine whether someone can or can’t be moral. Many Christian conservatives complain that their numbers are dwindling to an increasingly secular America, and this is why. As long as Christianity is no longer an exemplar of compassion, people will be turned off to it and it will keep dwindling. Atheists say there’s no such thing as an atheist-turned-Christian, but maybe there can be if the reasonable compassionate ones talk louder than the ignorant ones.