Are Christians having a negative influence in your life or the life of those you care for? I’ve done much research and will be publishing my book within the next few years. The impact on my life has been profound and traumatic and will discuss in detail true life events that hopefully at least a few Christians can take to heart and alter their beliefs and behaviors.
Mine have been mostly positive. A lot of the most amazing and heroic people I have met in my life were — not exclusively, but very predominantly — practicing and devout Christians. These people really do carry the light of their faith on their backs more so then the likes of nuns, priests and prayer obsessed, sour lipped busy bodies. They have been (for example) some of the best teachers, foster Moms, charity workers and philosophers I’ve ever met.
My main turn offs of my born-in faith (Roman Catholicism) has been, you know, child rape, the mass murder of infants and the condemnation of queer folk generally.
Thanks for replying. I’ve had a very different experience. Being gay and not a devout go to church Christian my entire family abandoned me. It’s been a long haul but with work and self live I may return to a half normal life.
Sorry to hear, and good luck on your life’s journey and with the book.
I’m not a fan of religions and especially religious organizations in general as they are nothing more than a means to wield power over common people.
But in the end it’s all about individuals. It’s what defines us. If we’re open or close minded, empathic or selfish, understanding or ignorant.
But being raised with a whole load of fundamentalist crap designed to keep people at bay and to control them, makes it quite a lot harder to become an open-minded person. That’s why I’m inclined to look sceptical at any overly religious person.
Like my uncle for example. Who was extremely strict and religious, controlling everyone around him, he had overly “high” standards (by his own definition) and almost broke his three children - until they all left him behind. And in the end it turned out he had a secret gay double life all along. Which he could never admit to anyone, even when his children had to clean out his “second life” apartment once he became a nursing case and there was nothing left to hide anymore.
It was very hard on his children, as they struggled so hard to meet their father’s expectations all through their youth. Only to learn that they had been lied to all their lives. But in the end, my uncle was only a victim of his own father and upbringing. His father - my granddad - broke him in the end. My mom told me, that as a child her brother was a very sensitive and caring person, but their father literally beat that out of him.
I firmly believe we atheists know more about Christianity than most followers of the religion. How many people have read the Bible – cover to cover – not just the cherry-picked parts? If there’s one thing that’ll kill your desire to be a Christian, read the Bible.
You’d think an all-knowing, all-loving god would WANT his followers to understand the rules. So why allow a contradictory, convoluted collection of folklore and mythology (there are freaking UNICORNS in there!) to be the backbone of your “religion”?
ALL religion is a way to manipulate the masses by pretending to be an intermediary between you and god. You don’t need church, you don’t need religion – if you want to talk to god, talk to god. (But, as Jesus says, do it in secret, not in public, prayer is private.)
In my day to day adult life, I would not say that Christians are having a direct negative impact on me, but there definitely was a strong negative impact in my childhood. However, it’s really hard to separate issues with the church from just general daddy issues. In other words, I think if I could have experienced church without my dad involved, it might not have been that negative. My dad was very depressed for most of my childhood, had a very fragile ego, and struggled with a lot of social anxiety and difficulty communicating due to his dyslexia (which, in recent years he has been slightly better opening up about). I can look back now with some compassion for him - I mean, when he was my age he already had 2 kids, meanwhile I can barely take care of a houseplant - but that does not excuse his tendencies of being very emotionally withdrawn, neglectful, and emotionally abusive.
He believed very strongly in the Catholic church, especially the sacrament of marriage / procreation. I never really connected with the church. I remember long before I even knew I was gay, I tried to convince him that I could still have a spiritually fruitful life without being a Catholic, and he was very dismissive. Of course when I finally did come out, he pushed abstinence. As time went on, there was a lot of tension in my family - my siblings and my mom were more supportive of me than him, so of course in the proper Christian way, he accused us of “persecuting” him - basically for not condemning homosexuality. Around this time, he vocally blamed my sexuality for his depression and his inability to hold down a job. He told my mom that he would not have married her if she were not Catholic, which was very hurtful to her. He accused me of committing lewd behavior in public, which I did not do (not to judge those who cruise, etc. - the issue is really more in the vitriol he spat these accusations with). Perhaps the worst thing was that he outed me to all of his side of the family, and because I assumed they all felt the same as him, I basically cut contact with them for years; I resent this the most because I actually think most of them would have been supportive, and I’ve missed out on years of time I could have been cultivating a stronger relationship with my extended family.
Where the church directly comes in is that twice he made me speak to a priest. Neither priest was as malicious as him. One basically said I could still be involved in the church as an artist (lol. I was very into painting at the time…). The other meeting basically went like, My dad: “Tell him being gay goes against the Catholic church”, Priest, visibly annoyed my dad is making him do this: “The church says homosexuality is immoral.”
Otherwise, I wouldn’t really say the church did a lot of direct damage. It was all primarily inflicted by my father or my family. Being forced to sit still for an hour once a week and basically just sit in all the discomfort and pain - that definitely gave me a trauma association with being physically in a church, but I never went to one of those churches with actively hateful sermons. I developed a lot of social anxiety just from looking around in the church and imagining, “would every one of these people respond with the same amount of vitriol as him if they found out I was gay?” But, I never got an answer to that question so I’m really not sure. Thankfully, I don’t remember ever actually believing anything that was preached in mass or Sunday school, so I never had to deal with all the disillusionment I know that many have to deal with. I’ve actually found myself in a social circle of a few religious scholars, and it’s a pretty common story to hear that someone starts studying religion to deepen their faith, and then end up coming to the conclusion that it is all BS as they do real historical research.
I’ll add, though, that while I don’t think I have a lot of trauma directly associated with the church or Christians in general, I definitely think the church bears some responsibility for how their teachings are used to inflict suffering. I think my father would have been lacking in some paternal qualities even if he were nonreligious, but that doesn’t change the fact that he did use the Catholic doctrine to inflict a lot of pain and trauma. I definitely think there should have been more sermons that were like, “while we may advocate against sin, screaming regularly at your family, dumping your baggage onto them, and being violent when you don’t get your way are not good strategies for this… and also therapy would be a good consideration!” So, like, I never had a church member tell me they hate me, but I definitely see it as a major fault of the church that they did not help my dad with his issues. So many people use church for counselling, and I truly believe that this helps a lot of people… but sometimes these people need professional help from a therapist, and it’s a moral failing in my opinion that churches don’t strongly (or at all) advocate for this.
There are certainly those calling themselves Christian who do not follow the tenets of the faith, who cause dissent and bad feelings. But every gay man who has wronged you has also been part of the LGBT culture, does that mean LGBT people as a whole are bad? If you are treated poorly by fans of Manchester United, are they all?
Any grouping of significantly large people will have the bad in it. If I lived in a part of the world a different religion was predominant, would I see the same negativity in those organized religions? Of course I would.
In these cases, I look to see if the organization - formal or informal - does what it can to effectively address a problem. In my opinion, the Roman Catholic church as not for the abuse priests make. But neither did the Boy Scouts.
My own denomination (Episcopal) has been struggling with how to deal with homosexuality between what we believe our Faith requires and the needs of society and our members. Are we at a perfect solution? No by far, but it is being addressed. There is not a “just do this” answer.
I disagree a lot with what you are saying. While “All large groups will have baddies,” might be true, there is a huge difference between being a rude/toxic person in general, and specifically weaponizing a value system. No, if a gay man wrongs me it does not mean I should generalized that LGBT culture is bad. But, if a gay man wrongs me in a way that is inherently related to LGBT culture, then I can absolutely claim that there may be a flaw in the culture that the greater community needs to address and call out. For example, femme-shaming, bottom shaming, toxic masculinity, body shaming, bi-shaming/erasure, trans erasure, racism - these are all problems that that the gay community has faced (and still faces). To respond to criticism about these things with, “Well, the LGBT community is large so of course there will be some toxic people, what can you do?” is tone deaf. You can still call out these behaviors when they happen.
It would also be dodging the issue to say “well, those toxic people aren’t really part of the LGBT community.” No, actually they are, unfortunately. And toxic Christians are still Christians, even if they hold beliefs that would not be acceptable in your specific church.
In my opinion, any church that doesn’t actively, constantly, and vocally condemn hate from their neighboring sects are part of the problem. Also, while there may not be a “just do this” answer, a good starting point is allowing and encouraging women, queer, and/or trans people in your leadership positions. Any church/religion that does not formally allow this is more often than not going to be problematic on some level.
Is what you consider toxic limited to Christian denominations? Some, such as my own, are welcoming. Are there other major religions where significant sects are opening to women and/or LGBT? In this arena, I personally have any real knowledge only of Islam for comparison, and I see none there. Is anyone able to speak to movements of Hindus, Buddhists, Shintos, in this regard? If not (and I grant I cannot make that point, so this is an ‘if’), are you focused then on the one major religion that is making some strides in this regard and not those which are not?