Demands From The Hyper-Religious

I worry for my folks every time I see a new religious book in the house. They’re usually filled with advice on stuff, from leading a more godly life to being a good Christian. But sometimes I take a glance at what advice they’re given. It’s not advice, but more a setup for making demands of people.

You’re not good enough unless everyone knows who you belong to.
This trope is something I can’t tie back to one book or film or sermon, but it popped up again. It starts by saying the world wants to deceive you, to convince you that being hyper-religious isn’t a good thing. But those worldly things are empty. They don’t inspire and convict like Real Christianity™ does. To be a good Christian, you’re not supposed to be kind to people, or charitable, or nice.

You’re supposed to let everyone know whose side you’re on. If they can’t get with the program, then they’re the ones who need to change. Being timid about your faith is tantamount to rejecting it altogether. As a former Christian, I can see why this approach works.

Ministry that preys upon insecurities.
It’s not rare or even uncommon – no matter what current practitioners of the faith might want to say. This kind of stuff forces people to go over their religious lives with a magnifying glass and find any error. In effect, it gives people permission to tell themselves they’re just not good enough.

Everyone has something they’re insecure about. Since faith is often about something more than a weekly singalong, it’s natural these insecurities get inflated. You’re not a good Christian unless you’re speaking gibberish and rolling around in the aisles.

However, this isn’t the only effect. If you’re someone who’s convinced that faith isn’t a problem, then you get something else: validation. That time you told your gay friends they’re going to burn in hell? Or that time you cast demons out of your child? These are okay behaviors. You deserve a medal.

The worst thing is that there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
I feel like I’m watching people holding themselves hostage. Everything needed for these kinds of ministries and ideas to work is in their minds. Take away belief in this cosmic overlord, take away the need for divine punishment and reward, and all that remains are the petulant demands of bad writers to be a jerk to others.

What’s left for me to do is find a way to accept the fact that I can’t stop ministers and Christian writers from making money off the prejudices and insecurities of others. I’m trying to find that way, but it’s hard. I can’t stand it when I see people getting cheated. And that’s what I feel is happening.