Passive-Aggressive Christianity

True story.
Source.

I don’t mean to pick on one person here, but this post is a great example of how passive-aggressive Christianity can really be. For people who don’t want to follow the link, the post outlines an idea of deconverting people from atheism. In a certain light, the idea appears to make sense. But really it plays on traditional notions of conversion to scare the faithful away from people who decide not to believe in Christianity anymore.

Why this is a thing.
Look in the comments by Christians, and one can get a sense of how this idea gets traction. The idea of conversion is to fundamentally change one’s point of view. Christianity itself is interested in propagating membership, justified in the belief that this is a real way of describing the natural and (allegedly) the supernatural. So, the post explores an idea that if deconverts can be persuasive, why not borrow the idea from them to push people into Christianity?

One glaring problem is that this still keeps ideas solely within the realm of Christianity. Indeed, it’s one of my problems with the word “deconvert.” While leaving Christianity was a fundamental shift in what I believed, I didn’t carry with it all the other implications of conversion. That is, I didn’t carry the idea that everyone else must be wrong, must be told about it, and must change their view to suit my own.

To be fair, deconverting can feel like this. Initially when I stopped believing, I still only had Christian imprints on secular ideas to grasp my new reality. Some deconverts end up taking that ball and running with it like regular Christians, insisting that the world deconvert with them. That phenomenon always strikes me as an echo of faith rather than trying to create a new faith.

The point stands that if the negative of a proposition is true, then the positive of it can also be true. Thus, deconverts targeting insecure Christians is just the flip side of converts targeting insecure non-Christians. That’s really what the post I linked to boils down to. Yes, some nice things are said about deconverts, but they’re the most backhanded of compliments.

There’s a fear in Christianity of alternative viewpoints.
The post author linked to a video by David Wood, who gave a very good analogy of ignorant faith. He stated that people who live underground might believe that’s the only world there is, and that anyone saying there’s something else would be viewed as ludicrous. While the intended target was supposed to be atheists, the analogy could be presented to Christians who mock what they don’t understand. Having lived my life in two different perspectives, I can certainly see how both ends of the spectrum warp things.

My point of view is supposed to be discounted, because it doesn’t conform to biblical teachings or anecdotal evidence. It doesn’t warm the soul or tug at the heart strings. According to the post author, something just got in the way of me and Jesus. This is so sad…assuming that it’s true. And because it plays on sympathy, I must be a jerk for saying otherwise. I suppose I should go pack my bags for a guilt trip.

A guilt trip is just one way to prevent Christians from entertaining ideas that exist outside the faith. As I’ve mentioned previously, fear is another. Regardless, some Christians are constantly kept in a state of panic with regards to wisdom not obtained in a Christian setting. The goal is to be emotionally shunned from non-faith.

This whole framework seems petty compared to the positive claims of the faith.
Although Christianity didn’t do me any favors, it has done some stuff for others. Maybe it’s helped them cope with a loss or tragedy. There’s a practical function to the religion that has helped it stick around.

What the post author above references is that other part of the faith that used to burn people for heresy and crucify people for apostasy. In modern settings, it’s dressed up as concern for lost souls, but behind it is the maxim – obey or be damned. Sugarcoating poison doesn’t render the poison inert.

To be clear, scaring people into a faith doesn’t have its place in modern society. This is true whether one tries to portray it as loving concern for the lost or outright hostility towards people outside the group. Deconverts are not some terrible lurking mob that seeks to lie to promote their position.

I’ll happily leave that to apologists and champions of the faith.

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33 thoughts on “Passive-Aggressive Christianity

  1. You know I was brought up Catholic including schooling, church attendance for a short while, etc. But by the time I was in my teens I realized if you stepped back just slightly you recognized a spectacle of sight, scent and sound. And I came into it after Vatican II so the mass was in English and not Latin.

    But I don’t believe in any of it now. One year in school we studied the Biblical texts. When you do that you start spotting the inconsistencies, the outright contradictions etc. that are in the texts. And the high school I attended they made a mistake – they gave us critical thinking skills and then said we couldn’t apply those skills to religion. Well who was going to stop me. So much to the chagrin of my now departed dad, I’m an atheist.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry, SB. I thought I was responding to JZ on Ark’s thread and then realized the link to the original was in the body of your text. (My bad, as they say) 🙂

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      • Hey John,

        I left a comment on his “Does Evil Come From God?” post, and it’s still in moderation. He’s also not released my link to his other post. Do you know if he moderates all first comments to his blog?

        I also left a comment on his “Why Does God Hide?” post, but it’s also getting held. Apparently I’m just not cool enough to comment there.

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      • He moderates every comment. Every. Single. One… and those he doesn’t like won’t ever be released.

        I think with someone like that, the best course is to write a post, and link back to it as many times as you can.

        I’m probably going to have to do that on his God Hides post.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Actually, DoNotLink is perfect for people who abuse the community like that. Even a comment policy letting people know would have been nice. But to be fair, I understand why he wouldn’t want my comments to see the light of day.

        On his hiding post, he’s trying to have it all sorts of ways. His deity is hidden from some investigation, but not all. His deity is obvious to anyone willing to look. But his deity isn’t so obvious that it negates personal freedom.

        All of this, of course, ignores a simpler explanation: there’s nothing hidden to begin with.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m trying to get to many of those places, but he’s evading (again) like there’s no tomorrow. I think we might have our newest Best Worst Apologist in the United States 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • He actually did allow a comment through yesterday, so that’s progress. It won’t let me hit like on his reply, though.

        I did ask him about how the presence of Jesus fits into his construct of being hidden to promote free will. If not being manifest is essential to free will (and consequently love), then Jesus kind of throws a wrench into the mix.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I just brought that up, too… and Yhwh appearing to all sorts of people in the past, and performing tricks to prove himself. Remember the Alter Challenge?

        Of course, the comment is in Moderation.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My comment on his post about evil is still in moderation. With having to approve every single comment, he might be swamped managing them.

        And I try to stay within the NT, mostly because it’s hit or miss dealing with the OT. If we fully counted everything that happened in the OT, based on Mel’s reasoning it could mean Yahweh didn’t love people as much back then.

        Then again, one could also say that in the most ironic of ways, Yahweh leaving people alone is an act of love. I mean, when he micro-managed, you had the drowning of humanity and dinosaurs, angels of death, plagues, famines, and genocide.

        Liked by 1 person

      • He’s got to be wrestling internally with the comments both of you are trying to add. At least, if I were in his shoes, that’s the way it would be for me. Don’t you think that he must recognize the logic of your points? After all, he’s an intelligent guy. The cognitive dissonance must be taxing. And annoying.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Well, this was the comment he didn’t want anyone to see.

        No, I can’t do whatever I want. Although I understand what you’re trying to say, I don’t see no choice as a complete description of non-freedom. I have no choice here of certain foods available in Japan, for example. That doesn’t make me any less free. I want to travel to the Shapely Super cluster, 1 billion light years away. I can’t, that choice is not available to me, but that doesn’t make me any less free. And if I were an automaton then I would have no concept of free action, and therefore could not miss it. I would perform happily as a machine, doing what I was designed to do, not knowing any better.

        But OK, I get the difficulty in describing what non-freedom would look like. It’s virtually impossible because it’s essentially a nonsense notion. Even a prisoner can act freely and commit suicide, if he chooses.

        But yes, for our purposes here, taking freedom from an organism to act freely (like psychologist Harry Harlow’s doomed rhesus macaque monkeys trapped inside his experimental pits of despair) would be unethical.

        Now, ignoring all the studies that indicate that we do not have anything like free will, the question then is raised, are you, by your narrative, actually free?

        According to your Christian narrative we are not free. People are ordered to obey

        Deuteronomy 28:1 If you fully obey the Lord…
        James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God.
        Jeremiah 7:23 “obey My voice…
        Luke 11:28 Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obeyit.
        Deuteronomy 28:1 If you fully obey the Lord your God…
        Deuteronomy 5:33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you…
        Acts 5:32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

        And failure to obey (failure to act as commanded) results in judgment and eternal punishment by Yhwh

        Psalm 75:7 God is the Judge
        Psalm 50:6 For God Himself is judge
        Isaiah 66:16 For the LORD will execute judgment by fire and by His sword on all flesh
        Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
        James 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy
        Matthew 25:41 Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

        So, where is the “freedom” in that arrangement? Where is the freedom in being commanded to submit, and having a prison and torture chamber (Hell) already prepared, and threatened for those who do not obey?

        And this situation is even worse than that for a normal terrestrial prisoner, as in Yhwh’s torture chamber the individual (the sentenced) does not even have the choice of suicide.

        That’s not freedom, rather action forced under threat of certain punishment by the one demanding the action.

        This is best articulated as such:


        So, I’ve addressed your question, now please address mine.

        By the Christian narrative, is Yhwh’s hiddenness ethical behaviour?

        Said another way: given Yhwh is the Judge and Executioner, dispensing his sentences according the whether or not someone believes in him, is his hiddenness ethical?

        In short, your argument is riddled with inconsistencies, as, according to the narrative, Yhwh can and has revealed himself. Moses meets Yhwh. Seventy elders are shown Yhwh. Jesus (who you believe is Yhwh) “revealed” himself. He walked the earth, in physical form, and returned after death to walk the earth and talk to people. In fact, Jesus even says physical proof is necessary to believe.

        John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

        In fact, yours is a revealed religion. Indeed, we even have two instances where Yhwh physically writes, in human words:

        Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. — Daniel 5:5

        The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.” — Exodus 34:1

        So, the idea that hiddenness is required falls flat. Yhwh can show himself to everyone, but doesn’t.

        That is a choice.

        That is his choice.

        And that is his choice in a world that, as I have already detailed, does not in any way indicate his existence.

        Now, given the consequences of non-belief is, according to the Christian narrative, eternal punishment and torture, is Yhwh’s behaviour (his choice to be hidden) ethical?

        And please don’t hand-wave again, Mel. Honestly, please don’t do that. If there were no command for obedience issued under threat of eternal torture, your dismissal of this question might, just might, be vaguely justified.

        That, however, is not the case. We have a god demanding obedience, and threatening certain torture (eternal torture, no less) if that obedience is not given.

        This raises serious ethical questions when the fate of the human being rest solely on belief in an invisible god who wilfully chooses to hide from the very human beings he will judge and murder.

        So, again, given the consequences, given what is at stake, is Yhwh’s deliberate hiddenness ethical behaviour?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I can certainly see why he wouldn’t want that one on there! 😉

        I am trying to put myself in his shoes. He seems to be open to some criticism of religion, which tells me he is not a fundamentalist. He appears to be fairly diplomatic – or he has been at times, on various blogs. He strikes me as being open-minded. I get the impression, however, that for whatever reason he’s certain there is ‘something else’ and he’s pinned that to the god he’s envisioned. I say this because I just had a conversation with one of my closest friends the other day. Keep in mind that anything of the ‘spiritual’ nature isn’t discussed in my personal life — I only explore this topic online. Where I live, the word ‘discreet’ is associated with religion, so it’s very rare for anyone I know to even bring up the topic. But my friend brought up the subject and said that she’s convinced there’s another dimension to life; that she’s not sure if it’s the god of the Bible (she’s not that ‘into’ organized religion) but that she’s convinced there’s ‘something else’ based on her years of nursing. She’s witnessed too many NDE’s to try and tell her otherwise. It struck me, after listening to her, that people who’ve had those experiences (and I think I remember Mel speaking of such things) would be operating from a unique point of view. Since I’ve never experienced anything to that effect, perhaps I am more of a skeptic.

        So when you or anyone else comes along and tries to offer sensible, rational comments to counter his views, he still clings to his emotional reasons for believing.
        (As you can probably tell, I’m still trying to process what she said to me, as I try to process so many of the comments of the believers)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nicely put, and I understand where you’re coming from.

        I just don’t understand people like Mel operating a “public” blog, then censoring. If they can’t handle the scrutiny, then make it private, or don’t blog at all. Psychologically, it can’t be healthy to censor, knowing you’re acting deceptively.

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      • Exactly. I agree with you 100%. It seems to me that by censoring, you’re admitting you cannot handle the truth. The hard-hitting comments that you and others deliver must be terribly difficult to deal with, hence the ‘vanishment’. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, well now he’s permitted it, although denies deleting the first one… even though I saw it there in Moderation. Time to put on hold my post, Mel Wild: America’s Newest Best Worst Apologist.

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      • Based on some of his other posts I’ve perused, it’s anyone’s guess what he’s thinking. I’m an evil deconvert bent on tricking lukewarm Christians into depravity, so he could just chalk up my POV to being the product of Satan. Or he might not care if we don’t agree with him.

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    • I went to the post you referenced. From what I’ve read so far, he’s got a fairly standard view of evangelical Christianity. People are to blame for everything, and his deity just wants to give us all a hug. Really, passive-aggressiveness is built into the system.
      Although I specifically used his post as an example, sadly he’s not the only one doing it.

      As for his frustrations, on some level he might be encountering the notion that everything which justifies his view also justifies the negative position of TOOAIN.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. SB, as far as you being an ‘evil deconvert’, Neil Carter has this on his FB page today –

    “Religion is ultimately just another form of tribalism. It is a tool of social engineering used to maintain group cohesion and identity.
    This is why admitting you are no longer a part of a religion is always taken so personally. It is ultimately felt as an assault on one’s group identity. It is an inescapably personal act, whether you want it to be or not.”
    I think that the comments you, JZ and others make (I’ve made some, too!) are felt as an assault and an insult. He reacts compulsively.

    Liked by 2 people

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