Of Christians And Atheists: What I have Learned To Date
Seventy-eight percent of Americans Are Christians
Poor me! I think I am very naïve and still have a lot to learn about the world in which we live, and by extension, humans! I recently discovered that America is 78% Christian and am still having nightmares at the very thought. Wait, hold it, I AM a Christian and am not here to bash anyone, well hopefully no one will have a need to be (too) offended after I have said my piece.
I was reading an article on Christians being whiners and crying persecution for the least of things. But I was still left bewildered! Is it that people who do not actively follow a Christian lifestyle but otherwise believe that Christ exists and the Bible is the book to guide their belief, can simply claim persecution by virtue of association with Christianity? And why do we so casually define religion to begin with? Being aligned with Christianity and being Christian is not one and the same where I am from!
Analysing the data: surveys and questionnaires
So fine, Christians are feeling persecuted. The same 78% of the American population as defined by the likes of Wikipedia (73%); Gallup.com (78%); Christiancentury.org (78%), among others. That, by what I learned about surveys and data analysis, means that 7.8 in every 10 convict, 7.8 in every 10 drug dealer, 7.8 in every 10 prostitute, 7.8 in every 10 politician and even 7.8 in every 10 church-goer. Well good for them all.
It still doesn’t seem fair to hold the same measuring stick over people who align themselves with Christianity as we would a Converted Christian (one who is baptised and actively following the teachings of Christ) or even a pastor, however.
My Grouse With Christians
One grouse I have to date, however, is with regards to how the Church and Missionary community treat the less fortunate, whether within or outside of the church. Remember I am a Christian so no one can cry persecution against me. I will list a few examples briefly:
- A man came to me in desperation and I referred him to a Christian organization which feeds the homeless. He had explained that he had recently returned from prison and despite living somewhere, his ‘home’ was but a shack which is flooded when it rains. He was however seeking assistance to buy a few juices to sell and make an honest living. I sent him to the organization for immediate relief as he was hungry and told him to ask if they can assist with the juice venture. He was promptly told that they only feed the homeless! He obviously didn’t qualify for their feeding program, even if they had food in a glut.
- A lady and her family were made homeless in America a couple years ago and when they approached a particularly visible Christian Organization, they discovered that she was an illegal immigrant and informed her that they cannot break the law by helping her and her freezing children as a result of immigration status. They were left for dead; hopefully someone else rendered assistance.
- I visit different churches at times and believe there are others who share this particular view. The offering and tithes are collected in a very public way, such that if you do not have any to give, you will be seen quite easily. Likewise, if it is a church which offers care packages, they are very prominently displayed, so the shame of those who might have fallen on hard times prevents them from accessing the items which are also usually packaged in a manner for others to know, especially if you take public transportation.
- There was a story recently about a new pastor who had decided to dress as a homeless man and lie down at the doorway of his new church. He was stepped pass and scoffed at by his 'to be inherited' congregation, even as he begged for money. Yet the same Christians upon realizing who he was, were suddenly very repentant.
- When I was younger, I attended a church which had mostly wealthy members. The pastor in his wisdom, decided to invite some children from poor neighboring communities. He lost many church members who chose not to have their children mingle with the poor.
These behaviors do not seem very Christ-like, but what do I know? I will however hasten to say that these behaviors are not the norm among Christians, but instead isolated incidents for the most part.
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.— Matthew 25:45
Now about those Atheists! I was raised in a Christian nation too; so I keep hearing. We have more churches per capita than most countries. I didn’t know much about Atheists and Atheism outside of what I learned in religious studies (that they don’t believe in God). For that, I am grateful to social media and my own research for opening my eyes. But I have learned much with a far way to go.
Maybe Christians see me as an angry Christian for calling a spade a spade, even to their/our disadvantage. I have also met a few angry atheists and if I wasn’t careful, would have thought that angry is what atheists are. Angry with God, life, themselves or loved ones; angry with people or whatever else is there to be angry with. But then I met some of the sweetest Atheists (people really, I know very few people who can walk in their shoes) anyone could desire to know!
I learned from them that while they don’t believe in my or any other god, they live a life to show that there is humanity without the use of religion, Bible, Quran, etcetera to guide morality. Being a Christian, I would really prefer that they believe in what I believe, but can you truly address a situation you truly don’t understand? The debate continues. Their stance is that religion is the foundation of many wars, has justified slavery and continues to limit people’s potential.
Seems Like An Interesting Read
Correlation Does Not Equal Causation
Let me hasten to add that because a person does something bad doesn’t mean that he does nothing good or is incapable of being good. Likewise, slavery isn’t synonymous with any particular race or religion, despite being widespread among some. The argument of Christianity being aligned with slavery therefore holds no water for me; it is porous.
I love and believe in God and I love my Atheist friends. Like some Atheists, there are some Christians who are mean or do not know true charity. I’m sure my association with Atheists will not land me in hell and that I will not be converted to their way of life. Do I want them to be converted to mine? Sure! But I would rather live a life uplifting to God and let them see and want to follow than to talk them into my beliefs. Most are well read anyway, far more than I am.
We need to get over ourselves and live charitably, one onto another. In the same way Christian is not synonymous with being kind, Atheism is not synonymous with being mean, angry or bitter.