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.