June 29th, 2010
08:20 AM ET

My Take: Why Christians are jerks online

Editor's Note: Jonathan Acuff writes the blog www.stuffchristianslike.net and recently released the book "Stuff Christians Like." In addition to commenting on Christian culture, he’s also written branding for clients such as The Home Depot, Bose, Chick-fil-A and AutoTrader.com. He lives outside of Atlanta with his wife and two young daughters. Follow him on Twitter @prodigaljohn.

By Jonathan Acuff, Special to CNN

Bono is a born again Christian.

Or he’s not.

It’s one of those two. I’m just not sure which, but I am certain that the faith of U2 is something we Christians like to argue about. That and beer. You never know if your small group is populated with prohibitionists. You have to say things like, "Is there anything you need me to bring to the dinner party, anything at all?" Then if they say, "Sure, how about a bottle of wine?" you’re good.

U2, beer, our favorite pastor’s kid-gone-wild Katy Perry: these are usually the topics I write about on www.stuffchristianslike.net. (Which is indeed a direct rip off of the site www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com.) But today I thought I might deal with something with a little sharper teeth. Something you don’t see addressed often, but you might have experienced.

Put simply, I want to talk about why sometimes we Christians are jerks online.

Much like "Christian hate mail," being a "Jerk Christian" defies logic. We serve a loving God. We follow a Christ who very plainly told us what to do. In Matthew 22 someone asks Jesus, "What is the most important commandment?" The answer is simple:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

There’s no confusion about that. No smoke monster. No mystical wisdom that must be found on a mountain peak after growing a ZZ Top-worthy beard. Someone asks Christ what matters and the second thing is "Loving your neighbor as yourself."

So then why are there so many hateful Christian blogs? Why do Christians write bitter messages on Twitter? Why do we send hate mail?

I think there are two reasons Christians are jerks online.

  1. The business traveler approach.
  2. It’s unfortunately not that uncommon for business travelers to get in trouble when they’re on the road. With a "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" approach they tend to do things they would never do at home. "The rules don’t apply here. I’m a different person. This is 'road me,' not 'home me.'" I believe sometimes Christians approach the Internet the same way. The rules of "real life" don’t count. Sure, I have to love my neighbor, but are people on Facebook my neighbor? The Internet doesn’t "count." These are just words. Surely I can throw a missile of hate at someone on Twitter. And when we buy into this logic, we develop an unloving, anything goes, whatever happens online stays online mentality. We become two different people, "Offline Christian" and "Online Christian." And we become jerks.

  3. Room Cleaning Christianity

Why do Christians argue about drinking beer or why the tankini is the least slutty of all bathing garments? I think it’s because we sometimes practice "Room Cleaning Christianity." Think of it like college. When you’ve got a final paper due Monday, you will be amazed at how energetic your desire is to clean your room. You will scrub tile with a slow toothbrush if it means avoiding the bigger, more difficult work of writing your paper. The same thing happens with Christianity. Loving your neighbor might be simple, but it’s not easy. Maybe my neighbor is a jerk too. Maybe they hate God. Maybe they are actively and violently opposed to everything I believe. And showing them grace feels impossible. So instead of dealing with that, we get online and police people. We find small things to focus on that will distract us. I think God wants us to discuss the little stuff, but we make it an idol when we practice room cleaning Christianity at the exclusion of love. And we tend to become jerks.

Hopefully you’ve never experienced either of these things. Hopefully this article feels like Amish Romance Fiction, currently a hit amongst Christians. But if it doesn’t, if you’ve been an online jerk, if you’ve acted like I have, there’s hope.

Jesus came for the mess-ups like us. Jesus came for the failures. Jesus came for the jerks. (That’s not in the King James version of the Bible, I remixed it like Timbaland.) And the truth is, grace is the antidote to being a jerk online.

So my hope is that you won’t prove my point in the comments section. My hope is you’ll accept my apology for the times I’ve been a jerk to you online.

My hope is that I’ll see Bono in heaven, or at the bare minimum "the Edge."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jonathan Acuff.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Jesus • Opinion

soundoff (1,722 Responses)
  1. Andy

    Jon, thanks for the thoughts. I have been embarrased by the way christians act so many times because I know that my savior Jesus would not have acted that way. I just want to be more like Him. I think we make the mistake of saying, "well it's just the way I am", but that is a cop out and is not even biblical. I want to live in a way that brings Him glory in ALL that I do and say for sure.

    June 29, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  2. texokie

    Well, I have certainly been quilty of throwing "sarcasm missils". Sometimes we Christians are like Saint Peter when the temple police came after Jesus in Gethsemane. Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. Jesus turned to Peter and reprimanded him: "he who lives by the sword, dies by it." At least we Christians have the words of Jesus to repremand us for being hateful.

    June 29, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  3. ShellyInVegas

    Jon, great insight here. As usual!

    June 29, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  4. Elayn

    Wow and ouch. Yeah I've been a jerk but strangely enough not online but in person! Geez who do I think I am? This is very good and well written. Thanks!!! eglowing4jesus (reminder to self, how am I doing w/ that?)

    June 29, 2010 at 10:47 am |
    • Kay

      I think all Christians struggle with kindness online because they are often attacked viciously by the anti-religious. They get lies thrown at them, they get extreme hate thrown at them. It is no wonder some of them might be rude to a few anti-God souls in their effort to defend the Faith. There were saints who were known for their righteous anger, I am sure. Anger is not always sinful. Remember when Jesus was angry at the tables in the temple? People selling their wares there?

      June 29, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
    • Artemis

      To Kay:
      Perhaps I am reading too closely between the lines, but it sounds as if you believe you and other Christians are the "victims" of non-believers attacks. It is true; non-Christians can be jerks just as much as Christians, but it is narrow-minded to believe that as a member of the most populous faith in the U. S. that you and other Christians are as victimized or marginalized as those who believe in philosophies other than the Christian perspective, or those who choose not to conduct their lives through faith at all.. Grace is not granted through Christianity alone, and there are those in the world who dont require the Bible's instruction to lead a moral and gracious life. Just because Christians cannot envision it without the Bible does not mean others in this world also cannot. When my frustration with Christian arrogance takes over my better sense of patience at times, I keep reminding myself there are only two businesses in this world: my business, and the Goddess's business. I stick with mine, and let Her handle the rest.

      July 1, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
  5. Dusty

    Great post, Jon. Unfortunately, with the advent of the internet, it seems like a lot of progress towards a "loving" view of Christianity is obstructed. Granted, there are a lot of ways the internet has help the Gospel, but there are also a lot of ways that it has hindered it. Now people like Fred Phelps and his group now have a larger audience to preach hate to. It's like we take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. I'm pretty sure this is what Paula Abdul was singing about in the 90's. 😉

    June 29, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  6. Thorrsman

    I've got to wonder how much of the "Christian idiot" phenomenon is provided by genuine Christians and how much is actually "Poe's Law" at some level.

    June 29, 2010 at 10:24 am |
    • Alverant

      In my experience, not much.

      One term that does annoy me is "real christian" as in "those people who send hate mail are not real christians" or "the KKK aren't real christians" etc. It's the "real Scotsman" logical fallacy and is just acting smug.

      June 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
    • Kay

      The problem with a lot of comments here are those from non-Christians who have no idea of what Christianity entails or don't care about it. They can not know what Christians are thinking on certain subjects or what level of faith each Christian has. Each person is at a different spiritual level. Some have mastered the virtues of patience and compassion, while others still struggle with it for various reasons (perhaps, for example, they were abused as children so they have a harder time seeing the good in others).

      June 29, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
    • Mara

      Kay wrote: "The problem with a lot of comments here are those from non-Christians who have no idea of what Christianity entails or don't care about it."

      FYI, most of us non-Christians are probably as well versed in the Bible as your average believer. Most of us are also aquainted with the Analects, the Bhagavad Gita, Koran, the Veda and the Talmud. Many of us have read Aquinas, Kierkegaard, and Augustine, too. Have you? Do you really think that non-Christians just spring wholy formed from nothing? That none of us were raised in the church? That one day we simply shrugged and said 'screw it"?

      I'd wager that I know a lot more about Christianity than you know about any other belief system (or lack thereof...)

      June 30, 2010 at 7:13 am |
    • Kate

      Most atheists got that way from actually reading the bible, rather than cherry picking a few phrases. The most evangelical atheists were once christian evangelicals. One said it this way. I was so miserable as a Christian because none of it made sense. When I stopped pretending it was true, it was as if a huge weight was lifted off me and I take joy in helping others to lose the weight too.

      Personally, I was never a christian, so it was never the trauma to me that others felt, so I'm more relaxed about it. But I spent my time researching Christianity, Buddism and other religions. The only one I felt that was the least bit ethical was Wikka

      June 30, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
    • Thorrsman

      Alverant When I use the term "real Chrsitians", I mean that quite literally. Those who would fall into the catagory of "Poe's Law"–look it up–are not voicing a Christian position, but parodying their version of an extreme Christian view.

      June 30, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
  7. Timothy Shrout

    Great article! I think most Evangelicals (I am one) are indoctrinated with an exclusive, I am right and you are not mentality. We have completely missed all the "Good News" that the Gospels speak of. Jesus taught us how to live correctly and in a revolutionary way...it is called "Love". Most Christians live according to Dogma and Doctrine. I call it "Pharisee-ism 2.0".

    June 29, 2010 at 9:47 am |
    • Kay

      Perhaps it is your location as that is not how I see it. Most Christians I know don't even practice basic Christian teachings (like go to church on Sunday even though they say they are Christian and believe). They follow their own set of rules. That is a whole different problem. God gave us the Church to help us and He sends us the Holy Spirit to guide us on earth through the workings of the Church. True, there are bad men in the Church but their sins never diminish the power of Christ nor His Sacraments. Peace of Christ.

      June 29, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
    • TK

      I totally agree with the "dogma and doctrine". I quit going to church just because of those very things. Oh they preached "love and forgiveness" alright but with certain stipulations. Love "our way" (according to our doctrine) or just love certain people in high profile positions. Since I didn't have a cushy job or a nice caddy in the drive I was "tolerated" not loved or accepted. I think Christians ARE who they are online. They're just better at hiding it in public!

      June 30, 2010 at 5:09 am |
  8. Jenn

    love it. it's true though, prohibitionist...

    June 29, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  9. Steve

    Some of the harshest, most critical blogs are Christian blogs where Christians share their opinions. If you disagree...your a jerk!

    June 29, 2010 at 9:40 am |
    • Dan Lilledahl

      Steve, sadly you are correct. I (being a jerk here) cannot stand alot of Christian blogs anymore because so many of them seem to be arguing non-essential points of theology and also putting forth opinions in the form of absolutes. If you don't agree with them, they can't just let you go and say "we can agree to disagree", but some will question your salvation. Sad.

      June 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • TC

      I am sure Christians can't stand hearing things like "intellectually dishonest" or "imaginary wizard in the clouds", but you're bringing it on yourselves. I should say, those people who are representing themselves as "Chrisitians" and seem to think it's ok to speak for all of you are bringing it on to you. By shoving these purported beliefs down our heathenous throats, you are insulting me. Are you so surprised that non-believers are turned off by this self-touted sense of moral superiority? I am a good person, and I know it well enough. I don't need your judgement to make me feel better about how I live my life, and you shouldn't either. Just leave it alone. Do whatever you want privately, but don't believe for a second that it applies to me. I worship Mother Nature and Father Time, and you can't stand it. Why, when I could care lesss who you worship? As long as you don't try to force it onto me. Stop forcing it, and you'll see how people respond.

      June 30, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  10. Andi T

    Great piece. I don't think you'll find many flame-throwers chiming in here. Afterall, we all have our moments of hate (online and offline), but who among us wants to admit itt? And the self-righteous, political types? Well, they're throwing bombs in the name of "truth" ... so they don't see it as hate either. The first step is admitting you have a problem ... a human condition, sin problem.

    June 29, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  11. Reality

    My version of Room Cleaning Christianity:

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immaculate conceptions).

    June 29, 2010 at 9:37 am |
    • Kay

      Catholicism isn't a myth but the Church was founded by Jesus. It's been around since the time of Christ and will continue to be here til the end. As Jesus said to Peter: On this Rock I will build My Church....and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The Church always has enemies and there are often enemies who hide within the Church itself but the Sacraments are true and the faithful continue all over the world to celebrate Mass every single day of the year in remembrance of our Lord. Amen!

      June 29, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
    • Reality

      According to many contemporary NT exegetes, Jesus did not utter Matt 16:

      Again the problem is in the history. Did this simple, illiterate, preacher man, establish a church? No, based on the lack of historical proof e.g. "Thou art Peter" (Matt 16: 18-19) passage only appears in one gospel." Matthew, whomever he was, was therefore a part founder/"necessary accessory" of the Catholic Church, as was Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James his brother, Mary Magdelene, Mary, Joseph and another father if you believe the mamzer stories, the Apostles and Pilate. It was a team effort with Pilate being the strangest "necessary accessory".

      June 29, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
    • Deb2010

      This is in reply to Kay: Jesus did *not* found the church, & Reality is very precise with the manner in which he/she uses "myth." "Myth' isn't a bad word. In my humble opinion, Kay, you might want to read a bit about the historical Jesus, and who actually founded the Catholic church–and why. The historical Jesus incited insurrection against the Rabbis, who Jesus believed to be corrupt. Jesus was a Jew–not a Catholic. Jesus was a rebel, and his goal wasn't to create "Christianity."

      June 30, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  12. joerob577

    Donald Miller actually addressed this yesterday on his blog. He wrote, "...when true doctrine is spoken without love, people find Jesus repellant, which is why Satan loves for us to speak the truth without love more than he wants us to speak lies."

    Quality thoughts.

    June 29, 2010 at 9:29 am |
    • Selfish Gene

      I tell the truth because I don't need your god's approval. I need mine.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Mark S

    Nice work as always, Jon.

    June 29, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  14. Andrew Rogers

    I agree with Rachel, above. "Room cleaning" is a struggle for me too.

    June 29, 2010 at 9:20 am |
  15. Brian

    It's so weird that we think of "on-line" and "real life" as two different things. After all, aren't we online while we're in "real life"? Online is just as much a part of real life as anything else is. I've had people act like huge jerks and tell me, "Well, that's my on-line persona".. no, that's who you'd be to everyone if you weren't aware of social boundaries and necessities. How you act and who you are on-line is part of who you are, period.

    Thanks for the post, Jon.

    June 29, 2010 at 9:09 am |
    • Ashley

      I agree with you completely on this!

      June 29, 2010 at 10:13 am |
    • Beth Jones

      Brian, you said it right. It would be hoped that people are using twitter, facebook, etc.because they love mankind and it's another way to connect with those out there we would never come to know otherwise. After all one has to possess a need for the association however they get it before they get into these communications, but from the beginning they were all used for sniping and those that followed fell into the age old method of getting rid of aggression, even if it means hurting others. Man is so imperfect they find ways to do bad things and convince themselves it doesn't count when you're not face to face.

      June 29, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      Absolutely, I think a Christian, if anyone, shouldn't think of being online any differently than interacting in any other way. Is it OK to be rude to strangers when you're out in public because you don't know them?? What about on the road? (BTW I would like to see a movement called HOW Would Jesus Drive?) Even worse, if you're posting something judgemental/obnoxious/santimonious while identifying yourself as a Christian, you are likely to turn people even more away from the whole concept through your example! Too many people, and maybe especially in America see Christianity as a cozy little club that puts them above everyone different from them, their families and their circle of friends they call a church. Now where did I get that idea??

      June 29, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
    • Kay

      I know people in games might pretend to be someone else (or in simulation worlds) but if you think about it: if a person acts like a mean person online, they most likely are mean in real life (or want to be mean and hurt other people). I've met people who I thought were Christian but after their words and/or actions, I felt their faith was not important to them (or a lie) because their behavior was close to criminal and immoral.

      June 29, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
  16. Gabriel

    I think it's because Christians are taught primarily to judge, not to love.

    With judging, you know where you stand. It is certain, and you get to be right. Loving, on the other hand, requires vulnerability, uncertainty and suffering.

    After becoming so good at judging, Christians can't reconcile their judgmentalism with their own hidden feelings or behaviour that are deemed to be un-Christian, so they go into denial, projecting what is really self-hatred onto other people.

    That's why.

    June 29, 2010 at 9:06 am |
    • Roshelle

      I think you hit the nail on the head here! Great insight. You put words to my thoughts.

      June 29, 2010 at 9:51 am |
    • Jennifer

      Wow. So true.

      June 29, 2010 at 10:01 am |
    • Dusty

      I agree, but it is so unfortunate. The Bible plainly states we're not to judge others, but in the past, too many preachers or teachers or whatever you want to call them have made it a point to judge from the pulpit. That's not what Christ did and not what He told us to do.

      June 29, 2010 at 10:39 am |
    • ShellyInVegas

      That is very well put. Ouch!

      June 29, 2010 at 10:46 am |
    • Shirley

      Gabriel, it's because we are all born with an 'old sin nature.' We are humans & we do make mistakes. The Bible tells us to be discerning but to not judge. We have to discern what is wrong but be careful to not condemn the sinner – just the sin. That being said, we DO need to practice loving one another regardless & watch what we say. We can apologize but we can never take back the hurtful posts. I truly feel the devil sits on our shoulder whispering the hateful thots & makes it easy to post them. We have been warned. Thankfully, we serve an awesome God who IS bigger than the enemy! Keeping our eyes on Him will help improve our posts tremendously. ♥

      June 29, 2010 at 11:08 am |
    • Luke

      You make a great point, but you miss the blatantly obvious, Gabriel. The bible is littered with hatred, killing, genocide, slavery and bigotry. While it also teaches love and compassion, those that follow the bible are inherently taught, one way or another, to hate. They may not agree (they won't) with this, but it is fact. The hatred is then ingrained deep in their subconscious. It comes out when threatened, naturally.

      June 29, 2010 at 11:34 am |
    • Evan

      Some good points. I would change the word "judge" to "judgemental". Christ calls us to judge, just not hypocritically. Irronically, isn't the statement "you ought not judge" in fact a judgement?
      Just some thoughts.

      June 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
    • Josh

      yes, the bible is filled with "hatred, killing, genocide, slavery and bigotry" but so is life. And the bible is about life. But if we really look at the character of God we find he is full of wrath, yes, but at the same time full of love, grace, and compassion. It's a dichotomy.
      If we see the insructions regarding judging and the early church, we are not to judge outsiders; rather we "judge" those who are Christians and point them towards righteousness. We are called to love, not wrath. Unfortunately, some act in the opposite manner.

      June 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • Gil T

      It's not so much that Christians have been taught to judge at the expense of love. Rather it is that they have not been taught to judge RIGHTEOUSLY. Christians have an aversion to judging... "Jesus said, 'Judge not'". Yes, he did. However, the context of his words is for disciples to not be rash or hasty in their judgments. The judgment of the Pharisees on the woman in John 4 was unto condemnation. Jesus' judgment was unto salvation.

      June 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
    • Luke

      Josh – That is so clearly disingenuous and completely the point I am making. It makes my head spin Josh. I am arguing that the reason many Christians act the way they do is because it is in the bible. Then you go ahead and agree with me, but pop in the prototypical, "Yeah, but there is love too and that makes it ok" garbage. Then why have it all Josh? Why teach slavery if the point is not to have slavery? Why teach genocide if we don't want genocide? Why sell children instead of teaching people how to nurture them? Seems like an awful thing to make the core of your life.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • Jesse

      Cristians aren't taught to judge, it even says so in the bible. However as Samuel Clemens once said the surest way to get someone to do something is to tell them not to.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • MB

      Everyone gets this judging thing wrong. What Jesus actually said was "Judge not, lest you be judged by the same manner in which you judge" or to translate into popular language "Don't judge unless you want someone looking at your dirty laundry." He went on to say that "when you judge" to make sure your life is clean regarding the area of what you are judging. Therefore, Jesus never said not to make judgments, but said not to be hypocrites in those judgments.
      When the Pharisees threw the adultery woman before Jesus, they were being hypocrites. How did they know who she was? Why was the man taken also according to the Law? Theories are that the man was probably one of them and probably most of these men had her previously. One theory is that Jesus began writing all their names and dates of their latest encounter with her in the sand when He said "He who is without sin can cast the first stone."
      Some liberals and non-Christians want to take the whole judgment argument to men that Christians can't speak out against behavior they believe is contradictory to Scripture. That is a complete misinterpretation of what Jesus was teaching.
      However, Christians need to remember that we can't speak out on any subject where our lives have not reason to the standards of righteousness. We can't criticize someone for lying if we call out sick from work to play golf, can't criticize cheaters if we fabricate our tax returns, and can't be critical of someone's marriage if we aren't taking care of our own.
      And we must remember that, although the behavior is wrong, we can't expect any more from those who choose not to accept Christ or follow the Bible...or those who have never heard the Gospel for they don't know another way. We also must remember that judging their behavior (one-on-one) will do absolutely nothing for the cause of Christ. Only by loving them will be lead them to the Truth.
      However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't speak to our values politically. We are expected to stand up for righteous behavior, just laws, and so forth. Jesus certainly spoke to political concerns. The prophets issued strict warnings of judgment about behavior, and were quite verbal about it, so we must speak to our values and beliefs when something is wrong if we call ourselves children of God.
      Regarding hate in the Bible, yes those things are there. That doesn't mean that God, or us as Christians, condone them. They are there to show the worst side of mankind so you would understand the ultimate truth of how holy God is and how short we fall as a human race to his standards. He gave guidelines through some of these situations, not to condone them, but because that is where those people were in their spiritual maturity. God couldn't eradicate slavery because that was man's design, so He gave rules to at least work through it and make it better. He couldn't stop war, but he gave rules for how to handle it so His people would survive and so they would treat enemies in their care with concern.
      Sometimes, I think we blame God for a lot of stuff that really belongs at man's doorstep.

      June 29, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • NoDoubt

      Gabriel, I totally agree with you. Someone close to me is very judgemental, because its way easier to fill in the blanks than to not be certain about everything in life.

      June 29, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
    • Eric

      Luke – The bible is a collection of many genres, one of which is the historical narrative - typically, where you'll find the "hatred, killing, genocide, slavery and bigotry". Our "secular" history books (also narratives) contain the very same topics from recent centuries – not to encourage more of this systemic evil, but to ensure we remember the past so as not to repeat it. I doubt I'll change your mind here, but I encourage you to take the bible as a whole – study the narratives, wisdom, prayers, and finally the new testament message where Jesus affirms the "law and the prophets" from the old testament and then instructs his followers on how to live while we wait for his return. That is the meat – that is what is "taught" in communities where Jesus is king. Happy to provide some tips if you'd like to know where to start or want some resources to better understand what's in that giant book.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
    • Helena Handbasket

      Nicely said, Gabriel. More love, less judgment. It sounds easy, but a lot of Christians I know just can't seem to put away the "I'm a more devout follower, therefore I'm better than you are." And that's a damn shame.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
    • wtchfllmm

      Actually, love is a choice. It does not have to be something we feel-very often it is not something we feel. We are commanded to choose this behavior, see, or we get in trouble with our God. I am very cognizant of this, and I really want to hear, 'well done, good & faithful servant'-not you really did not do what I asked-it was so simple-why didn't you/ I do not want God unhappy with me. On the other hand when I do screw up, I know I am forgiven.

      June 29, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
    • Kay

      I think "judging" is the perception of the non-religious in most cases. Christians have to have a moral sense. They have an understanding through Faith of what is right and what is wrong. In truth, all humans have the natural law as part of their human being and unless they are truly mentally ill, they know they are doing something seriously wrong. Christians also have the responsibility to share their Faith and also to point out to others what they might be doing wrong. Not in a mean-spirited way, but in a manner that shows that they care and want to help souls reach heaven.

      June 29, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
    • Gabe

      Yes Christ did admonish against judging others, but rather than being some kind of commandment, I think this was really just meant as practical advice... if we want to get closer to God (or for non-believers, say, purity, or loving kindness), we need to stop being distracted by what others are doing and saying, and focus on our own behavior.

      Jesus also said (one should) "remove the beam from your own eye" before trashing your neighbor for the beam in his.
      Same point. You won't develop (and you won't make the world a better place) if you keep worrying about how bad your neighbor is. Focus on becoming a better person, and you'll have more than enough to do. Keep digging on your neighbor and you'll both be miserable, and misery is contagious. Want to serve God? You have a limited amount of time in this life to do so. Do so by example. That's my take on it.

      June 29, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
    • robert

      your are talking legalism, not Christianity. do not confuse the two. , Salvation is by grace for a christian , unmerited favor, not by works(that's what the world want you to believe) that separate Christians from moslems, etc whose salvation is based on works, that is the difference. That is why there are signs that say"jesus saves', it is by faith. It is a powerful message

      June 29, 2010 at 11:55 pm |
    • Eva

      Get 'em Gabriel! Well put.

      June 30, 2010 at 8:26 am |
    • Jman

      Christians are not taught to judge, they are taught to love. It is society that teaches them to judge.

      June 30, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • Punk

      @Gabriel, then those Christians are not getting what Jesus is all about: love, not judgment. Christians are people, too, and many make mistakes the same as anyone else. I am embarrassed by the ones who don't reflect Jesus well–myself included when I screw up. I depend on the Lord for His grace and forgiveness and His help.

      June 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  17. Matty B

    It would be nice indeed if Christians all were immediately transformed into kind, loving Christlike people. Sometimes it happens that way, often it takes years of practising Christianity, training in righteousness and growing in grace. Oftentimes you'll find, for better AND for worse, Christians aren't that different from other people. Which brings me to my point. Christians are often jerks online for exactly the same reasons EVERYBODY is a jerk online. Just look at any YouTube comments page and you know this is true. It somehow brings out the worst in people. I'm not an expert on why that is, though I have my theories, but whatever it is; as with others, so it is with those strange creatures called Christians...

    June 29, 2010 at 8:54 am |
    • Jesse

      Actually there's some science behind it. Going online is just the same as putting a mask on, painting your face, drinking alcohol, or any number of other things. It's like doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, people use it as a means to suspend their inhibitions and act out in ways they normally wouldn't. It's not my fault, It's anonymous, I was drunk, I was high or any number of excuses. People act that way because they really are that way. They act otherwise because they think society says that's a no no, and they're afraid of the unknown, they're afraid to be an outcast, to be alone, and some are afraid of who they really are. But when no one is lookin, or at least that's what they think, they can't get caught or they have a good excuse. TADA!!! Mr. Hyde is back! Starve anyone and most people are a toothpick and a nap away from being cannibals. But for all the talk about the evil online cristian hordes, the other side is just as viscious and beligerent. In the end it's all about fear, the aetheists are just as afraid as any at religous person out there. They're afaraid that maybe science doesn't know it all and they may have to face their life, the religous are afraid maybe there isn't anything and their life is meaningless. Fear leads to hate, and anonymity or it's illusion(i.e. internet) leads people to act on that fear\hate. Learn to be strong so you don't have to fear even fear itself.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
    • Steve

      Christians come in 4 types
      Seekers, Followers, Students and Teachers.
      That means that 1/2 of all Christians haven't even gotten to the student level, and they are often the ones who talk the loudest.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
    • Ana

      Jesse, I agree with you, and you said it so well.
      One continuing human problem is seeing from one end of a polarity and assuming that, for ego's sake, that is correct and therefore the other polarity is wrong. We fracture into warring multiplicities on these fora, instead of seeking to understand and accept the myriad of expressions there are in Oneness. We're all the same, yet each is different. I see that as a path to compassion. These fora really bring out contentiousness, agression, anger, rage, and frustration. It's so easy, as we are all masked as has been said, Like a medieval or pagan "mask" festival where all can be oppositional with impunity. It's a release.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
    • Kay

      I think you make some good points. I think Christians (and I'm talking serious, practicing Christians, not the ones who say they believe in Jesus but then do not make attempt to go to church or practice virtue), are all at different levels. Some are already at the high level of saintliness (good example is the late Mother Teresa who just made people think of God when they saw her immediately. After all, she used to say that each person she met, was Jesus in disguise....in other words, she LIVED her Faith) and then there are those who are struggling with sin still (perhaps very serious sins or just minor sins) and those who want to follow Jesus but are stuck and unable to progress up that spiritual ladder. Jesus sees all these people at their different levels as His Followers, however, they are all at different levels of virtue. Some might be able to control their anger, while others can't (or won't). It doesn't mean they love other people less when they get angry at people online, it just means they are not yet able to control their response in a manner that is more Christian appropriate. 🙂

      June 29, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
    • pete

      I may need some help with this one, but all believers are christians, but not all christians are believers. is this correct?

      June 29, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
    • mattheww

      @Pete: believers in Christ are necessarily Christians (though not necessarily professing Christians). Professing Christians are not necessarily believers.

      June 29, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
    • Belinda

      Hey Matty B~

      The comment about youtube is so true. It's really out of control. People get so angry and lash out over the dumbest things. What I find is there are more arguments over religion and chrisitanity than any other topic. And don't let a Christian artist do a song with a secular artist...the comment section is full of belittling from other believers. One point you made that is excellent is the fact that our walk with God is a process. There are strongholds that take years to uncover, however a person has to be willing to grow in the faith and many will not grow to maturity. Going to church and saying you are believer doesn't make you mature. Whether we like it or not we are called to live at a different standard and everyday is a decision to live a life pleasing to God. I'm reminded all of the time that I can't do it in my own strength.

      June 30, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  18. rachel

    The point about room cleaning is well-taken.
    Replace abolitionist with prohibitionist and you're set

    June 29, 2010 at 8:51 am |
    • Bear Coble

      lol i didn't notice the abolitionist thing. it makes it sound like he's pro slavery. and now i feel like i'm just being a huge jerk and need to read the article again.

      SORRY JON!

      June 29, 2010 at 8:53 am |
    • Stacie

      Rachel – Thanks for pointing it out. I knew that wasn't the right word when I read it, but I couldn't think of the correct one! I was hoping someone else would come up with it!

      June 29, 2010 at 9:09 am |
    • MattG

      I secretly think that Jon put "abolitionists" in the article to see if we would be jerks about correcting him....ha!

      June 29, 2010 at 10:38 am |
    • Johan

      The fixed it I believe.

      June 29, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  19. Robin ~ PENSIEVE

    I think you missed a third reason, let's call it "Cloak & Dagger" for fun. There's a measure of distance and protection online; it's like your laptop screen is a shield. You can dish out dirt then duck and cover and it's all good in the end. People can be braver online and say the things they think "out loud", while in real life they'll use better discretion.

    It makes me cringe when I read the kind of stuff you mentioned...no room for grace, no room for glory :/.

    June 29, 2010 at 8:44 am |
    • GodIsForImbeciles

      You're absolutely right, Robin. People are FAR more honest and open when there is no consequence to their expression. Without the mask of anonymity, people are forced to obey social norms and negotiate their opinions. Much as so much (most, in my view) online opinion is horrific, it is nonetheless an accurate picture of what people actually think and believe. Therefore, it is vital that we come to terms with the fact that we hold very dismal opinions of each other, solely based on our beliefs. And don't think it's anything to do with "Christians." It's Muslims, atheists, conservatives, liberals, the Chinese and black lesbians with foot disorders. It's ALL OF US. It's human nature, and only now with the Internet are we getting a clear picture of how unloved we are by each other. It's time to grow up and put away the beliefs.

      June 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
    • Dan, TX

      People don't necessarily say online what they believe at all. Sometimes they say things they don't believe at all, but say simply to be hurtful to get back at someone who has said something that they themselves were offended by.

      June 29, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • NHWoman

      I don't think it's always a cloak and dagger approach. Sometimes it's just that it's off the cuff, but if you were having a face to face conversation you're more likely to be receiving social cues that tell you how your comments are being received-whether or not you're hurting someone's feelings, angering them, etc., and then modify that conversation. If it's written for publication in some other forum, you're more likely to read it over before submitting it (say, if you have to submit it in print and actually hand deliver or mail it). So there are checks in other forms of communication that aren't there in online communication.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • metoo

      Robin Pensieve–you hit the nail on the head. People act differently behind the curtain of the computer. People say things that they could never express to someone face to face.

      It just should be a of matter of "act the way you should, even when no one is looking."

      June 29, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • Valerie

      My reply is for GodIsForImbeciles. I agree, completely, that Christians take the anonymity of the internet too far. And, as you said, all people have a tendency to do that. I usually read the comments on these pages and don't reply to make sure this doesn't happen with my own comments. That's why I hope you will answer this question honestly and know that I am not, in any way, questioning your beliefs or putting down your comments. Like I said, I think you are totally right in your comment. My question is about your screen name. I'm just curious about why you chose that one. I am a Christian. I am not an imbecile. I have a fun life. My husband and I teach abroad and we love new cultures, traveling, and meeting people of all nationalities and beliefs. I love adventure. I'm a skydiver. I'm a cancer survivor and I work with kids that have cancer and try to give back to that community. I'm working on my black belt in Taekwondo. I love God and I have something to believe in that gives me hope. Why does that make me, in your opinion, an imbecile?

      June 29, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
    • KC

      Why attack people at all...You are soundiing as if your defending your position, from what, his name? When the truth is different from what christians are taught they twist the facts and attack, when push comes to shove , they respond with you must have faith..
      Here is a truth "JESUS WAS NOT WHITE" CANNOT BE, WRONG PART OF THE WORLD..and yet, when depicted he is always white.hmmmmm

      June 29, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
    • Valerie S.

      KC, if you're addressing me, I didn't attack, or at least I didn't mean to. I really am just curious about the name.

      June 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm |
    • Robert

      thank goodness for the perception of anonymity. We can finally admit that there really are still racists in the South, that feminists really do hate men, and have forgotten about equality. That most people really do just repeat other peoples thoughts and have none of their own.

      And if you follow technology, that Apple fans, really do accept anything Steve Jobs says as straight from God.

      June 29, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • DCpunk


      I think I can answer this one:

      Generally, the belief that an invisible man in the sky watches over everything you do and judges you on it comes across as more than just a bit... intellectually dishonest. Find hope and faith in yourself and those around you, not some imaginary wizard in the clouds.

      June 30, 2010 at 9:05 am |
    • Randy

      @GodIsForImbeciles – I would disagree with your statement about being time to grow up and put away the beliefs. My beliefs are what transformed me from being just the type of person being discussed here – a "Christian" who is a jerk – to being the Christian I am today.

      Unfortunately just as with any group of people, there are far to many faking it or being "Sunday Morning Christians" as I refer to them. After the service, they'll cut you off to get out of the church parking lot faster, but inside the worship center they are all glowing and full of Christ.

      I was one of those, and I would spew hatred and anger, whether among people or online.

      It is not until you (being anyone) can really and truly give your life to Christ and TRY (there is no repeated success – we are human after all) to live life as Christ wanted us to, that you can, as another post put it, "pause about judging, who loved their neighbors like themselves, who cared not about jobs...but believed instead, turn the other cheek, love they neighbor, came to heal the sick, not the healthy" (with healthy being a true Christian).

      And as I said, yes I do fail at trying to follow Him and his Word, but I don't tell myself that since it's impossible, why try? (well, I do, but recognize where that's coming from)

      June 30, 2010 at 9:31 am |
    • just me

      randy – guilty as charged – yes i sometimes cut off the conversation and leave after church and im really not trying to dis respect .i'm just in a different place than others , not fakeing or pretending just another part of the path . so be careful we are all different.

      June 30, 2010 at 10:50 am |
    • GodIsForImbeciles

      To answer Valerie and Randy at the same time: When I meet a little child who believes in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or Elves that bake cookies in a hollow tree, I consider them to be children with a sense of whimsy. When I encounter an adult that believes in all-powerful, magic, invisible sky fairies that promise eternal life, I consider them to be imbeciles.

      Valerie: Congrats on beating cancer. Best of luck.

      Randy: Your entire argument is the picture of vapid self-absorption.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  20. MarieMusicademy

    Thanks Jon
    Good serious points and with the usual dose of humour thrown in. We run a website aimed mainly at the Christian market place. Our customer service is about 99% brilliant but occasionally something goes wrong. Like USPS lose the product we have speedily despatched. Not exactly our fault, and we do work hard to correct it, but it takes about a millisecond for some Christians to turn from people with Bible verses and other spiritual homilies at the bottom of their emails to threatening raging monsters. We respond with grace (I hope) and sometimes we've even had an apology.
    Let's be nice to each other online.

    June 29, 2010 at 8:43 am |
    • Johan

      Wow... carrying some hate in your heart? >> *isnt an active christian so dont pin the responce on that*

      June 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
    • Kim

      I don't see where they had any hate in their heart....

      June 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • Mark

      That's not hate for christians, it's hate for angry customers in general. Religious or not, a lot of people will turn on you fast if they don't think they're getting their money's worth. Keep rocking on, CSR's!

      June 29, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
    • Joeatheist

      Just to keep the record clear, us Atheists are not always the most polite either. We don't have a God to keep us in toe, so we can only blame ourselves.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
    • Carl Buehler

      Not a reply but still wondering why anyone would think the hypocrisy of religious people is limited to the internet.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:21 pm |
    • Kay

      I agree with Kim and Mark. The example wasn't hate-filled and Christians do have feelings too (and emotions) and dealing with rude customers is not easy nor does a Christian have to suffer the violence of another. They are free to defend themselves and also report evil, rude, criminal behavior if that happens to be the case.

      June 29, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
    • Kay

      As a Christian, I enjoy reading the news and having a chance to comment, as I find there are more hate-filled comments directed at Christians online than the reverse. As a Christian you do have the right to defend the Faith and to defend other Christians. I think most Christians do that and are called "hateful" only because they are emotional in their response. Non-Christians just twist things around to make the Christian look like the bad one, when in truth, they were the one who wants to put up a fight. Just my two cents on the subject.

      June 29, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
    • ag

      To Kay, So what type of christian are you. Are you catholic, methodist or something else. Just as you bundled everybody else into non-christians, I am sure not all christians would like to be bundled with you. Or are all the christians bound by the same faith.

      June 29, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
    • jason

      they can not argue with us in the real world so they 'hide' in here, angry. Cause in the real world fact beats myth 10 to 1-if the 'believers' are so Positive that the bible is so full of truth and it is the word of God?the same God that never makes mistakes?the same God that is all powerful and can do ANYTHING he wants at any time?That God? then why do you think in all of our human history do we not have not 1 shred of proof to support what it says? The MEN who wrote the bible had a plan to suppress the things they disliked and raise the value of the things they liked and we are all still suffering for it...

      June 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm |
    • j. Hanlon

      Do you mean just on line as jerks? You obviously live in a different world if you think that is the only place they are jerks.
      P.S. I hate Bono

      June 29, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
    • Chip Atl

      Spirituality and religion are completely separate and unlinked. Some people are spirtual, but not religious, some people are religious, but not spiritual and there are others that have some combination of both. Christianity is a religion. Many people think that because they have religion, they have a free pass. They don't have the first clue about spirituality. Those are the selfish, the judgmental, the hateful, the bigoted, the greedy and the self-righteous. You'll find more of them concentrated in a place of worship than almost anywhere else. It's a shame that they can't take a hint from their more spiritual brethren scattered among the congregation.

      June 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
    • Adam K


      Of course you feel like there are more hate-filled comments directed at you than you and yours are slinging yourselves. Of COURSE you do. Everyone wants to be the persecuted victim. It's so much easier to say everyone's just picking on you than it is to actually defend your rationale. It's a little intellectually lazy to not recognize that outright. But the reality is, Christians make up a strong majority in this country (it's a fact borne out by statistics) and it's a majority not very afraid of throwing its weight around. I have a hard time buying that Christians are victimized more than non-Christians in the US. The sheer numbers wouldn't seem to support that.

      June 29, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
    • Robert

      Take something like "Marriage" as an example, are Christians more likely to get divorced or less? Answer: More likely.
      Are they less likely to be jerks or more likely? Answer: More likely.

      I've met Christians, whose faith gave them pause about judging, who loved their neighbors like themselves, who cared not about jobs, illegals coming from Mexico, cracking down on drug users, but believed instead, turn the other cheek, love they neighbor, "came to heal the sick, not the healthy"

      But even though I've met a few, lets face it, they aren't the majority – most people don't want to be 'manipulated' by all those religious teachings – they want to be just as tough, just as cunning, just as materially rich, just as feared, as the next guy.

      In short, Christians online as jerks? How about humanity is petty, and Christianity hasn't solved that problem.

      June 29, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
    • Eric Cromwell

      This is where I have to suddenly steer the conversation to anything BUT religion since that is what the article is about. LOL. sorry couldn't resist. (In reference to the billion plus articles on scrambled eggs with huge fire and brimstone Christian sermons in the comment section)

      I honestly think some of the online Christian jerks are actually paid to promote inflamatory rhetoric. I wouldn't be surprised to find out theres a political motivation behind it. Most people are good people and sometimes they have bad days. The truly proffesional jerks are fewer in number than they appear.

      June 29, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
    • David

      If you want a prime example of "Christian" hatred, look no further than any new article about gays and lesbians-gay marriage In particular. You will read the most judgmental, disgustingly self-righteous, vile comments imaginable. Just tidy I read a post from a born again christian who was responding to another poster who said there were many faithsin the world. Without missing s beat or batting an eyelash this born again person denounced all other faiths; specifically Muslims, Jews, Buddist, and Hindus to be "made up" religions. They will all go to hell she claimed.

      Is it any wonder a huge and growing chunk of the population can't stand "christians"? If you think you're special because you imagine you're better than everyone else- you think you have a free pass to act like a total A.H.

      June 29, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
    • Wraithian

      Hello, Kay, this one's in response to your comment, "I find there are more hate-filled comments directed at Christians..."

      Perhaps, this very well may be the case. However, as a pagan, I get very (very) tired of hearing, over and over, "God bless this, god bless that, this person is going to hell," or just how wonderful your, "lord and savior," is and, "only by finding him shall you be saved..." Over and over, in every comments section in existance (at least on CNN 😉 ), you can find comments like these. The rest of us non Christian folk are tired of it. If Christians would stop waving their faith around like some sort of banner of insanity, maybe they wouldn't catch the ire of the rest of the sane world. Look, I'm not bashing Christianity... I would say the same thing if the comments sections were loaded with religious praises from other pagans such as myself, or Sikhs, or Asatru, or Khemet, or Judaism, or Muslim...

      It's good to be faithful. It's good to believe. It's NOT good to ram it in everyone elses collective face.

      June 29, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
    • Gustavo

      The headline of this article really intrigued me, however I felt like I was reading the outline for a speech being prepared by a freshman at a community college. This is a very poorly written article. Yes, I know the source is a blog, but CNN usually has much higher standards for writing and I am sorely disappointed that they chose to list this on their main page. I don't mean this as a personal attack on Jonathan, but a critique of the editor(s) who chose to include this on CNN. After reading this article, I will steer clear of Jonathan's blog.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:33 am |
    • nonbeliever

      I agree that most Christians aren't just jerks online. They're mostly just jerks. If they were all so holy (and not holier than thou) they wouldn't be at soldier's funerals with signs that say things like "God hates f@gs" or condemning ANYONE for that matter. Yet they always find a way to belittle or condemn what they do not understand (ie people who don't 'believe' or anything that contradicts their precious fictional book). I left Christianity because the congregations I tried to worship at were full of two-faced hypocrites who did not love or treat others the way they wished to be treated. The majority of Christians are not role models that I want my children to act anything like. I think the reason Christians are jerks or passionate or vehement is because they are so uncertain in their own beliefs that they need to force feed it to others to sleep at night.

      June 30, 2010 at 7:11 am |
    • paul

      @jason's comment
      Looking for a shred of evidence that the bible is full of truth? Try using it as an instruction manual for life and you will have a different opinion.

      June 30, 2010 at 8:11 am |
    • Tim

      Many who profess to be Christian are fulfilling what the apostle Paul said of such ones, that these would "have a form of godly devotion, but prove false to its power."(2 Tim 3:5) Though saying to follow in Jesus footsteps, these are instead, are counterfeit Christians, unwilling to ' closely follow Jesus ' (1 Pet 2:21) by being "no part of the world" (John 15:19) and its language.

      June 30, 2010 at 8:25 am |
    • Jarrod

      I see christians touting the "2 rules to follow" thing all the time. I dont get it. If those two are the real meat of the Bible, then why is there this huge book anyway? Is the rest just useless banter?

      June 30, 2010 at 8:41 am |
    • Greg

      If most Christians actually took the Bible as a guide to life or a philosophy of life (at least some parts of the NT), this blog post probably wouldn't exist. Trouble is, that's not the case and organized religion just makes it worse. And really, if you want to get decent morals or a guide to life from a fictional book, you're better off with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or the Harry Potter books than the Bible. There really is some awful stuff in the bible, espeically the OT. All the terrible things done in the name of religion, the Phelps clan protesting against gays, all that hatred is sourced directly from Bible verses, just like violence done in the name of Allah is directly from Koran & Hadith verses.

      June 30, 2010 at 8:44 am |
    • Shawn

      I think people water down God's Grace and twist scripture to conform to there lives instead of conforming there lives to scripture. The Christian Life and Walk is hard and narrow way (Matthew 7-13,14) My comment is the answer to the first part of this article is maybe these people are not Christians at All....They just think they are....The Bible tells us that many will think they are saved...but are not.....Matthew 7:21-23 says: 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

      The Christian Walk is Hard, Narrow, and Difficult, it requires us to Deny Ourselves, take up our Crosses and be Crucified for Christ's name.....it means we are not to live for this world.....

      Jesus tells us in Luke that few are saved.....Luke 13:22-25 says

      22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”
      And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’

      We are saved by Grace yes, but Grace means,,,knowing God, loving God, Loving his Commandments, Coming to him depending on him for everything, knowing you can't do nothing on your own, broken over your sin, mournful over your sin...and knowing that GOD gave you the Grace to have Everlasting Life that you don't deserve...We are to Love him with all our Heart...and want to obey his word...and strive to be like Jesus Christ, that is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit....So are Christians being jerks or just not saved, you decide...the Bible tells us that we will know them by there fruits...We are to be like Christ always...Strive to be like him...at home, work, half way around the world, because if we are truly like Christ people will hate us for his names sake, and I believe this is what the Bible teaches is a Real Christian.

      June 30, 2010 at 9:02 am |
    • terry

      Why are Christians sometimes jerks online and offline? Because they think that they are right and everyone else is wrong!

      June 30, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
    • Butter

      @Chip Ati:
      Though I believe in all opinions being valid to their owner, I must offer up mine in response to your also valid post... Personally, my Christ-following Faith aka the stereotyped term Christianity, is not a religion and never will be. My Christianity, as I believe biblically supported, is a "Relationship" with Jesus Christ and includes the truth of being a child of God. It is not a religion to many of us yet we are continuely stereotyped into a more legalistic group known for making it a religion and often times fundamental in nature. This is not the truth I receive from His Holy Word and Son. It is of and created by this earthly world and us humans to be a Religion – man made.

      The only wish I have is that both Christians and Non-Christians no longer be grouped into a stereotype and judged based on that. Open and teachable spirits are something to be desired and wish there were more of this online and off.

      June 30, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
    • frankandcathy

      Wow. All of these responses were a case in point, no?

      I'm guilty of it too but try to steer clear these days....

      June 30, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • Stacy

      This was a good read, thanks! Great observation, great accountability, great grace. And that's what it's all about. What a rarity these days. I see the jerkiness far too often online, not just from Christians of course, but I (far too often) feel embarrassed for the reactionary Christians who hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to assuage their spiteful sides. They miss the Lord's message completely and that is to act in grace. We don't need to defend our faith as one responder suggests. We forgive, we love, we act in grace. At all times, no matter who or what we're faced with. Easier said than done sometimes, but what's worthwhile is never easy. Stand out because you ARE faithful, not because of the faith you claim.

      June 30, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      Butter said:
      "Personally, my Christ-following Faith aka the stereotyped term Christianity, is not a religion and never will be. My Christianity, as I believe biblically supported, is a "Relationship" with Jesus Christ..."

      Then I'm sure you won't be needing the first amendment's protection to freedom of religion, since it isn't one.

      June 30, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • Jenna

      @ Nonbeliever: You said "I left Christianity because the congregations I tried to worship at were full of two-faced hypocrites who did not love or treat others the way they wished to be treated. The majority of Christians are not role models that I want my children to act anything like."

      I'm 100% positive that there are many hypocrites in the church. Simple fact is because no one is perfect. Everyone falls short of the glory of God. However, you chose to lose your faith because of others, not because of yourself. Since when is a Christian supposed to look at others as an example? Yes, of course we are to be an example, and many are not. But even with such hypocrites and deceivers, your focus should be on God and what He has called us to be... not on what others do.

      God will judge one day, (and if He doesn't, for all those nonbelievers, I'm glad I have lived a better life out of it), then your excuse of "I fell out of my faith because of your "followers'" will unfortunately land you in a place no one longs for. I'm sorry many people deal with those Christians who continue to fall on a daily basis and turn others away from God because of it, but it is not about Christianity, or church, or faith... It's about a personal relationship with God and not a single other person. Love God first, love your neighbor second. That is what God has called for us to do, who He has called us to be. That is how I live.

      June 30, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
    • Joe Parkmoor

      To Nonbeliever, –
      You mentioned the vile signs and posters displayed at soldier's funeral, which most of us will recognize as the work of the Westboro Baptist Chuch. Please don't equate Christianity with these sick, twisted individuals. As a Christian, it deeply saddens me to see the way these people "practice their faith". They are truly out of touch with what Jesus taught. Let me also say that I'm sorry you had a less than happy experience in your Christian upbringing. I offer no words or scripture to try and convert you. Be true to yourself. Christians do appreciate the beliefs and opinions of others, when expressed in a non-judgemental fashion. Best wishes to you!

      July 1, 2010 at 10:29 am |
    • Mauricio

      This response is for Shawn some comments up. Shawn interpreted the scripture in Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord,Lord, will enter into the kingdom of the heavens..." as if those who do not enter the kingdom of the heavens will be in the Lake of Fire were the unsaved is. This scripture only says they will not enter into the kingdom of the heavens. There is a place outside of the kingdom of the heavens where the weeping and gnashing of teeth is and outer darkness is which is not the Lake of Fire. The kingdom of the heavens is a subsection of 1000 years of the kingdom of God which spans from eternity past to eternity future. When people are born of the divine life they enter into the kingdom of God not the kingdom of the heavens. The kingdom of the heavens is entered by living the divine life. This 1000 years reign is the kingdom of the heavens. During this time, defeated Christians are outside buying the oil at a higher cost because it costs 1000 yrs to gain. At the end of that age, they are rejoined to the rest of the believers in the New Heaven and the New Earth age. The millennial kingdom or kingdom of the heavens portion of the kingdom of God is the wedding feast. So not entering into the kingdom of the heavens does not mean you are not saved from the Lake of Fire. Besides, salvation is a freebie; the kingdom has to be earned. This is where Shawn contradicted herself when she said, you are saved by grace but you have to do something to be saved! If you could do anything, it would not be by grace but by works! Salvation from the Lake of Fire is free. However, salvation for the kingdom of the heavens is not; you have to earn it by the living the life as Shawn said. This is likened to buying the oil in the ten virgins parable in Matthew were all are believers in Christ – not half of them unbelievers, because all of them have oil in their lamps which represents having the Spirit of God in their spirit; Unbelievers do not have the Spirit in their spirit. Where the believers need to have the oil is not just in their lamps; it is in their vessels which represent their soul. As we gain more of Christ in this age. Oil which represent the Spirit is slowly being added to our vessels -not the lamps. Where the foolish virgins did not have enough oil was in their vessels. Those who had enough entered, those who did not have enough had to buy it during the wedding feast – the 1000 year reign- outside; it does not say the Lake of Fire. The believers need to two garments for the wedding feast; one they get totally free and is the righteousness of Christ that they did not earn. The other garment is the righteousness that they earned through Christ. Those thrown out of the wedding feast did not have the extra garment; i.e; they had not earned the kingdom of the heavens. It cannot be salvation from the Lake of Fire because that is not earned. So were they are they thrown? Outside; It does not say the Lake of Fire. If you think that is no punishment you do not know what you are saying. It is a terrifying thing to miss the kingdom age. Life will be very miserable outside of it and full of regret and shame. No thank you. I do not know if you have been in jail but most people cannot tolerate a day in it, let alone 1000 years. This is where Lot's wife will be. The kingdom of the heavens is a reward and an incentive to be matured in his age. Christ has one unique method to mature Christians and is by heat. During the tribulation those left on earth will be matured because of the intense fire they going to get. Forget about stocking up food and supplies like the Mormons or preparing for the Armageddon war; the only way to escape it is to be full grown in Christ; this is about maturity in the divine life nothing else. The kingdom is the matured believers in Christ. Just imagine a kingdom of the Christians as we are now in this post! Who would enjoy that. That would not be enjoyable to the nations during that rule! So Christ has to mature His people before He can have a kingdom. You could potentially speed up His coming by maturing in His divine life.

      July 2, 2010 at 10:31 am |
    • Morgan

      >> @paul

      @jason's comment
      Looking for a shred of evidence that the bible is full of truth? Try using it as an instruction manual for life and you will have a different opinion.

      This is irony. A Christian, being a jerk online, on a blog post about why Christians are jerks online.

      There are many people who are quite satisfied with their lives without someone telling us how to live them. We think for ourselves, decide what to believe, what not to believe, and overall have good, fulfilling, happy lives without your book of instructions. Please believe me when I say that I have no need of it at all.



      July 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • Urijah

      This world will be a better once religion is outlawed!

      July 2, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • John Macdonald

      "Christians are jerks online" – and everybody else isn't? Oops, I'm a Christian, so there I go being a jerk, I guess...but I have been called worse!

      July 3, 2010 at 4:39 am |
    • nick M

      To Mauricio, (not that you'll ever see this probably) Nice take on that part of the scriptures. I don't remember ever reading all that verbatim from the bible, but it does sound like familiar translating from my Southern Baptist days. Discussion is good though, so here's my take: I am a Christian, and I believe. What I don't do is KNOW everything there is to know about the subject, or the Bible, or the scriptures from many other faiths or religions. In my opinion, you would have to be some kind of genius to learn enough of the languages that most of these things were written in, and translate them yourself, and get it anywhere near right. So yes, I'll take it on faith that the basic meanings in the current Bible are what God intended them to be. Otherwise, being the all powerful, fun guy that He is, He'd have melted the pens of the translators every time they screwed it up, or some such thing. As for the comment someone made about waving our religion around like a flag, well yeah, we are sorta supposed to do that, and pass the word around too. Shoving it down peoples throats was NOT however on the agenda. As for other religions being real and just as true, why not? Christians may have a monopoly on Christ, but I doubt that we have one on God, and it's not only possible but probable, that He went to different peoples in different areas, and presented Himself in different ways. In fact He might have done that just to see how we'd do on the getting along with your neighbor thing. So far we're not on the "A" list with that one I would guess. It was the idols, and not believing in anything that God seemed to have the problem with, but again that's just my take on it, and I'm really nobody in the end mix. Anyway, every faith or religion has their zealots, and they will always make it more difficult for the rest of us to follow our faiths in peace and quiet. Kinda like the zealots in politics. I think that most of us are in the middle somewhere, but the zealots make the most noise for the most part and we end up voting them in because they are the only choices we have. If you look closely at the numbers during the elections, you'll see that almost half the people who can vote, don't, and that's pretty much the same as saying none of the above. In many churches of many faiths, the congregations are getting smaller, and I think it's for the same reason as the political disdain. If you are not enough of a zealot in your church, then you start to feel unwelcome, and unhappy being there. It's not religion or faith that's the problem, it's the zealots of every faith, political spectrum, and every subject you can name. Oh yes, and to the original topic of this article; We are all jerks. I have never in my 60 years ever met anyone who was NOT a jerk on one subject or another. Religion, politics, borders, and money just happen to be the areas of interest that we tend to be the most passionate about, and the more passion in something, the louder we get with our jerky selves.

      July 3, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
    • Tricia

      You know, Im a christian, but what I mean by that is I try my absolute HARDEST to actually follow and live my life the way christ wants me to. I would say there are so many people who profess to be "christia's" simply because they believe christ lived and died for them. However to say you are a christian and actually try to live your life under christ is a completely different matter. You are NOT a christian if you go to church once a week and every other day you go around judging others and hating. Im sorry..but your not. And these types of people know it in their hearts. Yes there are some pretty angry atheists out there as well..but tell me which is worse? A christian who professes to be "like christ" and then every day judging everyone and believing you are better...or..an atheist who is not aware of a GOD so in other words what does this person have to live by? Anyway all im saying is, if you are professing to be a christian you should try to LIVE LIKE ONE. You know my father is very much a christian, but you know he's got long hair and tattoos and the other day he walked into the grocery store and there was this older couple and the older man said "wow, he's got some long hair eh"? and the older woman said "It looks like a rats tail..thats what it is..a rats tail" as she was looking at him in disgust. This was when my father said: "And I suppose you go to church ONCE a week too huh?" And she Said"yes, we do as a matter of a fact..let me guess..you dont?" And thats when he said No I don't go to church once a week and judge others every other day." I do not honor God once a week I honor him every day" and as you can assume she just sat there looking shocked and embarrased like she wasn't expecting it. And the younger man behind my dad..just said.."some people huh"? lol So in other words if you are christian you should't honor God once a week and than go about your way the rest of the week. I've met many christians who are THE most judgemental of all. THIS, my atheist friends, is most likely the reason you turn your heads from the christian faith. Can I blame you? Absolutley not. So christians....If you are going to say you are of God and under christ..ACT LIKE IT...or in better words LIVE like it. THIS is what the lord meant when he said not every one who calls "Lord, Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. For those who are like this..Jesus does not know you. (btw im sorry I went into this long story..lol but this happened just a few days ago and I I felt I had to share it with you for it goes with article) =)

      July 3, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
    • Dennis Keeler

      Yet another "christian" blogger wanting to sit as judge and constantly criticize other christians. why don't you do something worthwhile with your "blog ministry" and build others up, be a source of encouragement, rather than slamming your christian brothers. I believe if the apostles were on your blog, they would tell you to get a life and most of all, get Jesus. Your testimony is anything but christian. Start reading your bible instead of your blog.

      July 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Tricia

      @ Dennis keeler Oh Im sorry if I offended you like I said I was simply mentioning something that this article reminded me of. And i think you will be suprised at the idea of the whole reason for Christ's second coming is for the nonbelievers and the believers who dont have a clue as to what God is or what christ meant. ahaha and I find it peculiar at the very least and quite funny at the fact you mentioned the apostles or disciples. Very funny. =) You wont understand that though I'll just keep that to myself 😉 You dont have a clue as to who I am and what Im about so think before your judge people huh?

      July 5, 2010 at 3:22 am |
    • Not so sure

      I think people abuse the honour of god continuously. If you call yourself a Christian but have another set of rules for being "on the road" or on the internet. I call you a hypocrite. People use god to wash away their sins , they use Christianity to call themselves a good person. It takes far more then showing up for a weekly meeting (church) to call yourself a good Person. God is sold to people by the church, follow us and we will give you the golden key to Heaven.

      The truth is God wants all of us to live to our true potential, he is in everyone of our spirits, not one faith is better then the next, they are just languages for people to try to understand what God is. Being a good person is doing onto the next person as you would want done onto yourself, knowing what right and wrong truly means and being the best person you can be. That is truly all he asks.

      July 5, 2010 at 11:30 am |
    • MikinAZ

      When you entire belief system is false and the people who are part of the organized insanity know deep down it is – of course you are not always going to act according to its teachings. C'mon, trying to live a life predicated on belief in a magical super being/planet creator (disproved by science) who knows and sees all yet lets his children suffer because it is part of some plan to weed out free thinkers he supposedly gave that skill to is idiocy. The idea that a horned devil will punish those that have done his bidding while they are alive defies logic. Christians are the most judgemental people on the planet – "judge not ledt ye be judged"?...malarky.

      July 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
    • offgrid

      I had to read Baruch Spinoza to understand what Jesus was really talking about. In the aramaic, Jesus (Yahshua the Nazarene) always calls "God" Abwun. (Aba Father) or "Father in Heaven" – the letters also mean the cosmic Light within all things (Aleph+ Bayt) . Slowly Christians are starting to see that Jesus was some sort of Master of Tao (The Way) who saw that the Light exists in everything so that the 1st Law is the same as the 2nd Law. Love God (the Light within ALL) as your neighbor, as yourself – whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers that you do unto me. Jesus says "I am in my Father (Abwun) and I am in you and you are in me (John 14:20) Once you realize that everything is connected you cannot harm another – I think the Buddha also says that, so do not hate, show only kindness, compassion and understanding. Then you will discover the true Light that Jesus was talking about. – Within yourself. Luke 17:21 – Namaste (the Light in me sees the Light in you)

      July 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
    • Walter A. Murray, Jr.

      It takes more than saying I am a born again Christian. I cannot remember not bellieving. I do not consider myself born again since I have always believed. To be a Christian one must always strive to improve and stop sinning. Once saved always saved is a doctrine that I do not subscribeto. We are sinners and must keep trying to be more Christ like. One should block out what they know and have been taught and read the New Testimate with an open mind and you will see the trueth. Walter

      July 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • Douglas Harper

      Now it is time to pass the tray! B asic
      I nstructions
      B efore
      L eaving
      E arth..... Jesus was a giver not a taker

      July 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • HedgedIn

      Tolerance is about give and take. This is something that many intolerant people fail to understand. Most people believe that tolerance means you agree with everyone else and put forth a great effort not to step on anyone's toes by expressing a viewpoint which is unpopular or likely to be taken poorly by your peers. That is not tolerance. Tolerance is recognizing that others have the right to believe differently than you do and respecting their right to have that different belief. It doesn't mean you have to like it, but if they're not causing you any harm by their difference of opinion, then there should not be cause for conflict.

      I was agnostic for six years (I'm not counting years 1-13 because I'm not of the opinion that a child can really grasp or understand religion earlier than that) before I found my own personal faith. I was thus given an opportunity to face criticism and malice from both sides. I was told I was going to hell, that God hated me, that I would get mine, and much worse by supposedly "well meaning" Christians. And then, after my conversion (which was entirely a personal choice and not influenced by any threats, abuse, or evangelizing by anyone else), I got to hear the opposite, that I was crazy, that I was a fool for believing in an invisible man in the sky, that there was no such thing as my heaven or hell, that I was ignorant and uneducated, etc. That just from atheists and agnostics, and not even considering all of the many people I've met with alternative belief systems who've had something to say about my religious choice.

      What it's taught me is that regardless of what you do or don't believe in, there will be at least one person who has something negative and hateful to say about it. There will be bigots who take their own beliefs or lack thereof to the extreme, if only to try and bring you down. It's not because they care, it's not because they just want to be heard, it's because they just despise the fact that you believe in something they don't and they think less of you as a person and want you to know it. It's how people are. They must insist that they're right, when there really is no proof one way or the other. I've seen fanatical Christians who point to the bible as their sole source of proof in the Almighty, I've heard of the Shroud of Turin, mention of ancient historical texts, the discovery of what they say is the ark of Noah in the Turkish mountains, and various other proofs, but none of which can give us anything 100%. All of these can be questioned or doubted. That's why our belief system is a faith. We have FAITH in something. Our teachings tell us that by faith in Jesus Christ we are saved, and faith is something we cannot see but that we feel and experience all the same. Just as an athiest or a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Jew or a Wiccan etc cannot prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that their beliefs are correct, neither can we. God is felt with the heart, the soul, and the mind, and it is an individual experience which cannot be forced.

      I know there are forceful and obnoxious "Christians" out there, people who have either lost their faith, lost their minds, or a little bit of both. People who cannot understand that their actions are flying in the face of what their doctrine actually teaches. These are fanatics who should not be offered up as the poster child of Christianity, because that is not what a Christian is. I can't speak for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, but when I tell someone I'll pray for them or if I say God bless you, I'm not trying to force my religion on them. It's a gesture of love and respect. I've been told by Pagans Blessed be and I had a Muslim once hope that my family be blessed by Allah, and I've had friends who believed in a Goddess with no specific religion attached wish me good will. They weren't preaching to me, they weren't trying to force me to accept that what I believe in was wrong, they were wishing me well. And regardless of whether it comes from an individual or in the name of a specific or nonspecific diety, it's a gesture of kindness and should be taken as such. It's a shame that people will try to construe an insult into almost anything nowadays.

      July 5, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
    • Mike

      Hello! As I read the article and scanned the comments, there seemed to be lot of generalities, but few specific examples of what people mean when they say Christians act like jerks. It is easy to have an opinion, but difficult to draw conclusions without facts.

      I would ask the following questions:

      1) Does the article mean Christians are jerks by what they believe or how they present their opinions?

      2) Does this article mean that Christians, by the fact of being believers in Christ, act like jerks more often than those who do not believe in Christ?

      3) That Christians act like jerks with the same frequency or with even less frequency than those who do not believe in Christ, but that any "jerk" behavior is unacceptable given a Christian's profession of belief?

      If anyone believes 2), it would be helpful to see a study or some such documentation since that would advance the dsicussion.

      If anyone believes 3), I would suggest that a Christian tends to be more aware of his/her faults than atheist would be aware of that same Christian's faults since a Christian knows how vast the gulf is that separates him/her from a perfect God better than an atheist/agnostic who does not know God. I would suggest that a good thing for Christians and atheists/agnostics to keep in mind regarding 3) would be the approach that Jesse Jackson took during his run for the presidency – "Have patience with me. God is not done with me yet."

      Finally, my own opinion for what it is worth, is that 1) might be the most common reason that a Christian might be accused of being a jerk (I totally agree; however, that a Christian can act like a jerk. See 3) above.) Christians might be accused of acting like jerks because they hold firm convictions about issues that this country is facing. If person A disagrees with person B about an issue, no matter how politely person A presents his opinion (especially if he holds to that opinion despite arguements that person B finds persuasive), I think a natural reaction might be for person B to accuse person A of acting like a jerk no matter how politely person A presents his opinion.

      July 6, 2010 at 5:11 am |
    • Peter

      This could possibly be the most over used word of all time... anyway.. I truly believe that "christians" and all religious people really, are mentally defective. We evolved as followers and leaders in order to survive, but since we are now 100% dependent on science for our survival, we need to embrace science and kick the useless, insane religious crap to the curb. It is holding us back! History shows us that change is inevitable. We cannot and should not tolerate any more religious fanatics of any kind!

      FYI: The reason evolution is taught in schools and not creationism, is because evolution is science related and requires mental acuity as does reading, math, biology, literature, etc. Religion is a hobby, like knitting or antique collecting. I don't care how passionate you are about it, we cannot allow religion or creationism to waste one minute of valuable school time!! This is America and it's the year 2010 people, start using your highly evolved brain for something useful, turn off the Jerry Springer show and get an education!!!

      In the words of my favorite right wing wacko... "I'm just sayin' "

      October 15, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.