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Passive-aggressive Christianity

Posted by Skeptigator on December 8, 2008

Flag of the Episcopal Church

Flag of the Episcopal Church

I occasionally peruse a local afternoon newspapers website for interesting local interest articles and I stumbled upon Kevin Leininger’s recent column, Viewing Episcopal split through historical lens, discussing the split within the Anglican Church over the issue of homosexuality.

I thought it was a good article and I usually enjoy his articles, I don’t often agree with him, but I appreciate them nonetheless.

What struck me however was the very last sentence,

And don’t tell me all of this just illustrates how silly and dangerous organized religion is. The record of organized atheism – Nazism, Communism, etc. – makes the Inquisition look tame.*

My first thought was, “What? What does that have to do with his article”. Since we are editorializing here, let me do my own. Why does the author feel its necessary to include this? On it’s face the comment really had nothing to do with the article which was specifically about a doctrinal division of a specific denomination and how it is coming to grips with living in the modern world.  But with a little further thought I think this textbook passive-aggressive swipe at an entire block of people betrays a certain doubt within the author himself. As an atheist, I’m reading this article with some interest but I never thought to myself, “This is why atheism is better” since I know atheism says *nothing* about the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality (or anything for that matter).

I think that this little swipe also offers a bit of an insight into (at least) one believer’s mind and his belief that the *entire world* is shaded by those who believe in a god and those that do not. It’s the same boring Us vs. Them mentality. What this bit of lazy journalism exposes is the fact that there is a fundamental lack of perspective by the author. It is an implicit (or inferred?) approval of a black and white world and not the much more complicated grey world we actually live in, you know the Real World.

"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend the basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life" - Adolf Hitler, Feb. 1st, 1933.

"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend the basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life" - Adolf Hitler, Feb. 1st, 1933.

The author’s wife’s church, Catholic, was so grossly complicit in the Nazi regime that it should be an well-known embarrassment. And don’t get me started on the Catholic radio host, Charles Coughlin. Communism and particularly the Stalinist brand is a textbook example of ideology that exerts an enormous amount of control over people. I dare say that Stalin’s suppression of all religious activity had little to do with his disbelief in a god but more to do with the threat to his absolute control that the Church could wield. 

Any ideology that suppresses Free Inquiry should be fought, for if a belief is to be found to be true and good it should always and constantly be subjected to questioning. What many within “organized atheist movements” such as Secular Humanism have a problem with is the fact that Political and Economic ideologies are constantly argued over however any kind of critical examination of religious Ideology seems to be considered at best “bad form”.

Look at how many of the faithful simply demonize the dissenting opinions. Lienenger mentions specifically the Inquisition as if this is the only egregious example of  religious tyranny and that the truth or falsity of something is tied directly to its body count. Perhaps he meant to end it with the following:

And don’t tell me all of this just illustrates how silly and dangerous organized religious is. The record of organized atheism – Nazism, Communism, etc. – makes the Inquisition, the Crusades, Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, The Troubles in Ireland, the witch hunts of the 17th/18th century, Jonestown Massacre, Heaven’s Gate, 80% of all conflict in the Middle East and Apartheid look tame

If your religion is worth believing in, it should be open to examination. It will then be found to be deserving of it’s following or found to be lacking. The split within the Episcopal Church highlights exactly that process because many within that particular sect have found it’s doctrines to be lacking and I personally think the Episcopal Church should be applauded for even having the discussion.

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* This statement is riddled with logical fallacies making the statement almost a joke. It’s most obvious is one called Tu quoque (you too). It’s a fancy way of saying, “Because there is an example of wrong on the other side of an argument, I am therefore allowed to engage in it as well” or “Because you have no evidence I therefore need none as well”. This fallacy is almost always accompanied by a straw man logical fallacy in which the “wrong” attributed to the other side of an argument is not an actual example of the other sides arguments.

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8 Responses to “Passive-aggressive Christianity”

  1. littlejohn said

    I think you’ve overlooked the most obvious error here: Hitler was a Roman Catholic. All of his henchmen were Catholics or Lutherans. German military uniforms of the time included “God is with us” on the belt buckles. Hitler was a choirboy who seriously considered entering the priesthood.

    No leading Nazi, with the exception of Josef Goebbels, was ever excommunicated. Goebbels’ crime? He married a Protestant woman. The most important ally of the Nazis was Pope Pius XII. They certainly weren’t a bunch of atheists.

    I feel a letter to the editor coming on. Or maybe it’s just gas.

  2. dystressed said

    Great points skep. On another point, I would also contend that the Catholic Church’s ambivalence over the slave trade was also a very egregious. There’s also the point that Christopher Hitchens wrote about the Church’s condemnation of condom use having a direct correlation to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

    @Littlejohn, best of luck in your letter to the editor. Don’t forget to cite your references for the claims, though. It’s always better when you have the citations to back it up in LTEs. It’s more likely to get published that way. And, if it does get published, please add the URL in a comment or e-mail it to us so we can reference it later.

  3. I hesitated to bring up the whole Nazi thing because I didn’t want it to become the focus of my post. Because Atheists LOVE to argue about whether Nazism was religious or atheist. Even if the Nazi’s were completely atheist with no ties to the Christian church my main point still stands and it applies to atheists as much as to theists.

    For lack of a better term, this is a grey world. Nazi’s were Christians and Not Christians. It is not either/or. The issue is whether or not your beliefs are open to Free Inquiry, all of the above mentioned -isms were not.

    Perhaps I was not clear enough in my post, which is likely. Kevin Lieninger is perfectly right in his statement and absolutely inconsistent in his application. If “Organized Atheism”, which is an essentially meaningless term, has resulted in Stalinist Russia and is therefore bad/evil then because of the Crusades, Christianity is false. You simply can’t make the first half of this statement and then not finish it with the second half.

    …or perhaps he was attempting to say “Because the Episcopalians are having problems reconciling the Real World with their Dogma it does not mean that Organized Atheism can do any better” and then cites a couple of correct examples. Well at least one but nevertheless Stalinism could be described as Orgnazied Atheism. Unfortunately the term Organized Atheism in this example would then apply to our own government.

    Isn’t the Secular nature of the Federal government an example of Organized Atheism. How many religions have been able to flourish under this Organized Atheism. Our Founding Fathers saw first hand what it looked like when Religions ran governments and they went out of their way to remove religions from our government. If that isn’t Organized Atheism, I don’t know what is.

    Since Kevin Lieninger feels compelled to compare the Doctrinal disputes within the Episcopal church and… Stalinist Russia, perhaps I should engage in the same kind of false analogy. Isn’t Doctors Without Borders Organized Atheism? What religion does this organization service? None. Here’s their mission/vision statement

    Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization working in more than 60 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.

    You Godless Bastards!

  4. Andy S. said

    So, when Ann Coulter stated:

    “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders
    and convert them to Christianity”

    Was this an example of passive-aggressive Christianity ?

    http://www.stampandshout.com/shop/bumper-stickers/ann-coulter-invade.php

    Or was this just a good old fashioned, in-your-face, fire and brimstone, tell it like it is, your ass is grass comment ??

  5. firstofall556 said

    It is very interesting to me how people don’t connect religious belief with wrong doing. Unless that is if it’s people in the middle east or the jews. And then we just don’t understand how people could fight over such sillyness. But what do I know? 🙂

  6. New Page 1

    Antichrist is he in Politics or Religion?

     Hi I’m not here to debate the existence of God, but rather, I’m here to
    input some notable comments about true Christianity and to suggest that much
    corruption has enter many different religious movement since they were first
    recorded in history and practiced. (Christianity in many regards is no
    exception)
    Unfortunately the large majority of people both Christians and otherwise that
    have strong opinions both for and against have not personally studied the depths
    of the Christian faith and it’s history to know what Christianity in it’s truest
    form really is.

    Some of the apostles were married men. Contrary to some of the
    eastern and western orthodox teachings.

    Mat 8:14 And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother
    laid, and sick of a fever.

    The primary example of Gospel is in Acts 2:38 preached by the Apostles hardly
    compares at all with mainstream Christian Church doctrines today.

    The remnant Church "The Apostolic Pentecostal movements" are in existence
    today but it is a minority but rapidly growing by the millions and is mostly
    ostracized by mainstream Christianity for their One God opposition to a Trinity
    of three gods.
    The book of Acts is a historical record of the first church and gives the
    most accurate example of the message preached by the Apostles and heard by the
    first converts to the Christian faith, including the witness to the first 3000
    people who repented, were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission
    of sins and these also received the gift of the Holy Ghost to indwell their
    bodies and help them live a change and victorious life over sin and immorality.
    In the 2nd and third century this practice was outlawed at the Nicean council in
    325 AD. And many who upheld the Acts 2:38 Christian doctrine and continued to
    baptize in Jesus name were burned at the stake or hunted down as heretics and
    killed or beheaded by the sword.
    God didn’t empower the Roman government to recreate a religious system and
    power to kill Christians who followed the Apostles and their teachings which
    they received from Jesus Christ so what happened?

    I would like to suggest to you that the enemy of God the spirit of antichrist
    rose to power in that day and in many regards still wields power over many
    waters, tongues and people.

  7. Does anyone else see the irony in Jerry Mills’ random drive-by Pentacostal advertisement in the comments of post entitled “Passive-aggressive Christianity”?

  8. andyscathouse said

    It is the drive by “Christian media.” Where is Rush?

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