In the past few months I’ve borrowed some terms from Captain Cassidy because she’s very good at using the English language to describe ideas. One such gem is a “toxic Christian,” or a Christian that has let zealotry take over his or her faculties until replication of ideas, coerced agreement, and bitter hatred is all that’s left in an empty shell (my definition, but I linked so you can read her words for yourself). Hallmarks of a toxic Christian are vehement denunciation of others, angry outbursts, and painting non-Christians in a negative light that is unsubstantiated.
I say all of this because toxic Christians aren’t the only variety of toxic people out there. Sure, they’ve let religion blind them and disconnect them from humanity, but there are others out there who do the same thing for other religions and even atheism. When I used to play online games, the toxic Atheists were out in force, constantly getting visibly irate at the mere mention of “God.” Sometimes I’d throw out god with a capital “G” just to mess with them. Invariably I’d have a small army of people telling me I was an idiot for capitalizing a word.
At its core, then, I’m faced with the proposition that there are simply toxic people out there that hold toxic views. What I mean by this is that there are people who are more willing to jump to the first conclusion they make and stick with it rather than consider new evidence. The views expressed by toxic people use emotional sabotage, threats of violence and insult, and other barbaric means to force others to come around and obey the toxic person’s point of view.
It causes real damage.
I’ve wanted to write about more positive things over the past few days, but my encounters with toxic people have left me emotionally adrift. Toxic Christians would say it’s God calling me back over to His team; toxic Atheists would remind me it’s no surprise I’m drained dealing with “morons.” Neither view is correct, but I’m still left feeling irate and disturbed. I can’t center myself. If I can’t do that, then the bad thoughts come washing over me.
Perhaps it’s this risk that is making me write this. Like many other things I’ve posted, I need to get them out in the open to scrutinize them rather than keep it bottled in. So I get my cage rattled, and I retreat here to lick my wounds. But all I can do is remind myself that I wanted to be more positive.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve dealt with toxic Christians and toxic Atheists before, just not in the same way. Back then, I’d quietly listen while gently nudging a toxic Christian in the “right” direction while doing my best to steer clear of toxic Atheists. Now I still try to steer clear of toxic Atheists, but for some reason toxic Christians get under my skin and claw deeper.
What is to be done with the toxic and their views?
It is this question that dominates my thinking, twisting my mind around it until it goes numb. I cannot hide from them. I cannot allow them to harm others. I cannot resist their siren call.
Fortunately, today Godless Cranium posted this about a different subject: a defense of religion promulgated by Reza Aslan. In that defense, Aslan essentially argues that bad religious people – toxic Believers – are responsible for their own warped morality and views. Religion is excused for creating monsters.
This is a comfortable view, if one takes a strict view that there are good whatevers who practice religion. It removes responsibility of the group for the crazed actions of a few. And it doesn’t indict others who share the label. After all, just because I take up a label, it doesn’t mean that I am now responsible for the actions of others who share that label. Right?
A while back, I posted a view that is directly opposite of this position. There, I said that people who share the Christian faith are responsible for others who misuse that faith. I said this because there is too much buck-passing going on. Christians are willing to flaunt morality when it’s superior to others, but when it gets used in a hateful manner that Christian is now an orphan of God. Looking at this now, with a lens applicable to all faiths, does it mean I’m being too harsh towards Christians?
Reasons why I think belief labels should be responsible for their own.
For everyone who alleges a fundamental truth out there that is the key to unlocking the cosmos and finding happiness, I think they should shoulder the costs as well as the profits of that venture. This is for a whole mess of reasons. Primarily, though, it’s because terms need to be defined, the group needs to be able to determine what its beliefs are, and there needs to be no more hiding in gray areas of thought.
What I mean is that if someone assumes the label of Christian, that label should mean something more than what that person thinks it’s like to follow Jesus. Same thing with Hindus, Muslims, and Zoroastrians. Accountability should be the hallmark of all of this rather than changing terms and saying NO TRUE WHATEVER(TM). In short: not all whatevers becomes should be all whatevers.
This makes much more sense for beliefs that claim a hidden truth for everyone. If zealotry is the hallmark of a belief, it will get accepted by the whole. And if it isn’t, if NO TRUE WHATEVER(TM) is toxic, then it should get rejected by the whole. At least then the beliefs will be at the forefront, and people can see more clearly what they do to people.
Reasons why I’m hesitant to make such sweeping demands of people.
I was a Christian once, and I know what it’s like to have to hide from toxic Christians who have power in churches. Additionally, it seems like a heavy burden to place on people who just want to live their lives in peace. Third, what about atheism? Do Atheists have to adhere to this standard?
At first blush, I want to respond by saying Atheists are exempt because it’s not a belief system but rather a lack of belief in something. This seems a little disingenuous because I’m an Atheist. Distinguishing between Atheists is fruitless, as I have to take my own medicine that I prescribe. Perhaps I’m in a bit of a pickle here.
Maybe if I listened to caution, I should just pack up and keep at my misanthropy. I should continue in a depressed state with no answer because I’m uncomfortable with what might be demanded of me. Ducking my head in the sand might be safer for my sanity.
What really must be done?
I don’t know. I want toxic people to be accountable to the flock that they hide within. If they lure the wolves, they should be fed to them. But what if that’s too much? I really wish there was a better answer.
There is a part of me that feels I’m overcomplicating things again. Perhaps there is a more reasonable answer, that I should just take a break from dealing with the toxic people that lurk about the Internet. I think that maybe I should clear my head first, then, before I tackle this question again.