The Offensiveness Of My Faith

In reading Kiersten White’s post yesterday about her faith, I felt so much gratitude toward her. She has such an elegant way of saying so many things I have trouble communicating.

But now that she’s opened the floodgates, as it were, I’ve decided to put myself out there as well. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about me and my belief system, no matter where you stand on religion and faith.

Of course, you may not enjoy it at all. Because my faith is an offensive one.

Allow me to explain.

You see, I’m a Christian. A follower of Christ. A “believer,” if you will (not to be confused with “belieber,” which is OH so different). But I rarely mention this aspect of my life online.

Why?

Because the public perception of Christians tends to be that we are judgmental toward everyone who does not believe what we believe.

That we (especially in the South) spend all of our energy condemning alcohol and dancing, a la the movie Footloose starring a young Kevin Bacon.

And, most recently, that we make wild predictions about the end of the world just to make a buck and gain a following. (I’m looking at you, Harold Camping.)

Misunderstood because of a few extremists? Yes, I believe that would describe Christianity perfectly.

But I think the main point here is this: I’m not comfortable talking about my faith online because I assume I’ll be ridiculed for it. While it hasn’t happened in a blunt way, it’s happened passive-aggressively. People make snarky comments about Christians on Facebook or Twitter. People refer to us as “those idiots.” (Yes, it really happened. On Twitter, natch.)

Yet, as Kiersten pointed out on her blog, other faiths seem to be respected, even revered. Sure, Islam takes a hit because of their own extremists, but I still feel that the media drags their feet indefinitely when it comes to defending Christianity.

When my husband and I were in college, he worked at the Student Center. The Christmas holidays rolled around, and he was put in charge of decorating the lobby. Signs for Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa went up, but there was no “Merry Christmas” sign. When my husband asked about it, he was told they were not allowed to say Merry Christmas because it was “offensive.”

I guess what I’m trying to say here, in an oh-so-clumsy way, is that it makes me sad. Please understand that I know none of you would ever do this kind of thing; but sometimes, I feel abused because of what I believe.

It’s not okay to belittle anyone, but belittling a Christian seems tolerated – even, at times, encouraged. Why? We’re people, just like everybody else. We try to live according to a certain moral compass, not because it gets us into Heaven, but because the love of Christ compels us to do so.

Do we fail? Do we make mistakes? Absolutely. But we (and I’m talking about true Christians here, not those who masquerade as Christians) also do our best to help others in need. We plead for justice. We offer a refuge for those who are displaced. We believe in something greater than ourselves. We look at the planet, the people around us, the human brain, the unborn baby, and we say, “Surely this could not have happened by accident.” We fight for the sacred life of that unborn baby. We feed the hungry. We hurt when others hurt. We rejoice when others rejoice.

A true Christian is *not* an idiot.

I know what I believe, and I know why I believe it. This is not something I follow blindly. I’ve got my reasons for believing the way I do. And I know why I don’t believe in other faiths, although I respect all people, regardless of their worldview.

I have never talked down to someone else because of their belief system or lack thereof. And, just like Kiersten said, I’d be so happy if everyone would do the same for me.

If you have a question for me regarding this post, I’d love for you to email me via the contact page. I won’t preach to you. I won’t push anything on you. I love to be challenged, so ask away – but please do it privately.

If there’s some disclaimer here that I forgot to make, please don’t assume I meant to offend anyone. I didn’t. I merely meant to point out one of many double standards I see in the world. And if you’ve hated everything about this post, well, don’t worry – I’ll be back to my old shenanigans tomorrow.

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24 thoughts on “The Offensiveness Of My Faith

  1. Melissa Garrett says:

    I consider myself an agnostic – I neither believe nor disbelieve, though I tend to (and WANT to) think there has to be “something” bigger than we are out there. I rarely talk about my beliefs with others, though, especially online. I’ve had people try to “save” me, if you will, and it really angers me.

    But having blind faith in anything, not necessarily in one’s religious belief, to the point where you lose all sense of rational thought . . . I don’t understand it. And I think that’s when the name-calling begins.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      If I wasn’t a Christian, it would anger me too. I totally get it. The LAST thing I would want is some “born-again” person preaching at me that I was going to hell. Ugh. This is why I try to keep my mouth shut most of the time and offer information only if it’s requested.

      And I think you’re right – anyone who is considered a “fanatic” is ridiculed, regardless of what they’re affiliated with.

  2. Alicia says:

    I don’t know why you think you are not able to communicate this delicate topic in an elegant way. I totally agree with you on all points. Very nicely written and if anyone is offended by it, perhaps they should rethink their use of the internet.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Well, thank you. It’s just hard to express thoughts on these kinds of things without treading on someone’s toes, but if I managed to do that, well, hallelujah. 🙂

  3. Alexandra Shostak says:

    This reminds me that we need to resume our conversations! (My fault, I think I’m the one who failed to reply to an email…)

    I think you were quite eloquent, though, in writing this. It’s really strange, because I always considered myself in the minority for believing what I believe (you know what that is, don’t feel the need to post it online, though I assume people can probably infer it from this comment). There were times when I was younger (middle and high school, after I’d solidified and understood what it was I believed) that people would look at me in horror for admitting to it. This trend of Christian-bashing is new to me; I’ve lived so long tiptoeing around religious topics and breaking my back to avoid saying anything because I was afraid I would offend someone with a simple statement concerning my own personal beliefs and nothing else. To so very vocally (and vituperatively!) call someone else stupid for a belief system baffles me and it saddens me, too. I am not impressed with a group of people who feel the need to tear others down just to make what they think more legitimate. It speaks to me of an insecurity in their personal belief systems if they need to attack Christianity (or any other religion).

    1. Anne Riley says:

      I think you may be right on that last point. It’s like, instead of investigating their own beliefs and establishing why they believe something for themselves, they decide it’s easier to make fun of everyone else, thereby (in their minds) proving that they are right by process of elimination. Which is so silly, it’s unbelievable.

      And it’s funny to me that you felt you were in the minority. I always feel like I am the only person who believes in God!

      And I’m up for more emails anytime you are!

      1. Alexandra Shostak says:

        I think it’s easier to tear something down then it is to stand up for something. Those of us with concrete beliefs (whatever they may be) likely all feel like we are in the minority, because we’re holding something up.

  4. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    Fantastic post, Anne. I’m also hesitant to write about religion on my blog (perhaps especially because I work for a church), but you worded this so well. Thank you.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      I didn’t know you work for a church! I thought you did Blank Slate full time. Huh. The more you know. Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Mireyah Wolfe says:

    I’m Pagan — a faith often misunderstood and viewed in lights that boggle the mind — and I honestly feel that *true* Christians, despite the differences in doctrine, believe very similarly to what I do. Faith that there is someone with our best interests at heart, belief in justice, fairness, love and acceptance. Not hate and shame, fear and loathing. The same is true of *any* religion, really. The mythology (for lack of a better term) may be different (and honestly, in some ways, not by a whole lot…) but the basic morals and life-guidelines are the same.

    True Christians will welcome the heathen, the harlot, and the priest to their table to eat and drink, not stone them for being different or sinful.

    Those who call themselves [insert religion here] and use it to manipulate others are the worst sort of people and give that religion, whether it be Islam, Christianity, Paganism, Hinduism, etc, a bad name.

    I judge not by the different beliefs but by how you treat those who are different. <3

    (Though I do reserve the right to poke fun at the people who act like that Camping dude.) (I had my comments about the whole rapture thing, but also realized that some people believed it was true so much that they did some rather depressing things in reaction.)

    1. Anne Riley says:

      You know, I think you’re totally right, especially about true Christians welcoming others to the table. Anyone who’s actually read the Bible will see that Christ did just that. He spent most of his time with the so-called “outcasts” of society. You know who he didn’t hang with? The Pharisees. Priests who were so full of their own righteousness they made everybody want to throw up. Yeah… Jesus wasn’t their biggest fan.

      I also reserve the right to poke fun when and where it is deserved. 🙂

      1. Frankie Blooding says:

        I love to talk to other people about their religion/faith. However, at first, I was a little hesitant to do so. For years, it seemed as though everyone was defensive about it. But the older I get, the more I realize that I started off in the defense because I’m also Pagan and I’m tired of people “saving me” or *closing eyes and shaking head* burning things in my yard. Yeah, that was fun. Or calling me a witch – because that’s a bad thing?

        Now that I’M more comfortable with my faith – hey, LET them call me a witch. I AM – the more comfortable others are with talking to me about theirs. I have friends from *thinking* a lot of very different religions. I have friends who like to share their religious holidays and sometimes, we’ll celebrate all kinds of religious holidays in the same week! Its awesome to share that with my friends and associates and to know they feel comfortable sharing that with me.

        Though, I had to draw the line at fasting for an entire month. My sister did that because of her boyfriend, and I respect that. However, *shakes head* I’ll fast for a day in support, but that’s…about it. LMAO!

        1. Anne Riley says:

          Oh gosh, I can’t believe someone did that to you – the burning thing! UGH. Disgusting. And yeah – I don’t fast at all! Can’t do it!

  6. Charity Bradford says:

    This was a wonderful post Anne. You handled it well, vocalized your thoughts and concerns superbly.

    It’s funny because I always feel my particular “brand” I guess of Christianity is always singled out. Whenever someone that is (or were at any point in their lives) a member of my church does something wrong, the news make sure they say what church they belong too. They never say “local Baptist” or something else but *shrug* oh well. I choose to believe its because they expect more from us.

    We’re all just people doing the best we can. When we can accept that, the world will be a much better place to live.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      Yes, I agree. And I hate that the media singles out people and makes it a point to say, “Oh look at this narrow-minded church goer. Look at what a hypocrit he/she is!”

      BLAH.

  7. Starr says:

    Very well written post Anne. Thank you for this bit of encouragement in my day! Very much needed 🙂 I’ve love reading everyone’s comments as well~

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