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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. Marco

    Excellent little piece. My $.02 though is this...if a person is a *true* Christian, they don't do any of the things you mentioned. Otherwise, they're just people going through the motions...

    June 30, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  2. Jim

    I would hope that people who refer to themselves as Christians would remember the Great Commandment as it applies all the time to their lives. Christians are to love God and their neighbors (everyone, including those we have problems with) as God loves us. A problem is that many Christians have surrendered themselves to, for example, political dogmas which condone warfare, and even translate that into warfare as a legitimate crusade such as in the U.S./Anglo invasion of Iraq. Jesus spoke pointedly against warfare and against the politics of hating "enemies", or even of harboring resentment against them as he told us to love our enemies.

    June 30, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
    • Eric G

      But yet, jesus also said that we should love and worship him unconditionally all of our lives or else he will make us burn for all eternity. That sounds like a threat. Someone who loves me does not threaten me like that.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • Gabe Lawrence

      This reply is actually for Eric G.

      I threaten the ones I love, almost daily. Seriously. For example, I have a 3 year old that DESPERATELY wants to go out on our third story terrace…the one with NO HAND RAILS. Guess what, I don’t speak softly and kindly to him when I say no. It’s because I unconditionally love him that I won’t let his underdeveloped mind and body go somewhere that it could make a deadly mistake.

      Theory alert…it’s BECAUSE we’ve “spared the rod” (yes, it’s written) that many people have a distorted view on love. Heck, until I was 22, I thought it was a feeling!!!!

      June 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
    • Dan Lilledahl

      Jim, I agree about your comments of loving other as you love yourself. It is something I have seen on many Christian website, unfortunately, that some (not all, but some) Christians (I am one, BTW) simply cannot tolerate disagreement. Wose is when we question someone's committment to Jesus and our Salvation if you disagree with them. I too have been becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the way some (again, not all) Christians seem to want to throw their time and energy into political movements and politicians. Remember in Jesus' day there were many people who followed Jesus only because they wanted him to overthrow the ruling government.

      I am certainly not against Christians being involved in politics, and people of all beliefs and faiths have a right and a privledge to be involved politically.

      And just for the record, I myself was not in support of invading Iraq.

      June 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • Kate

      Gabe – is it sane to command someone to love you or to be tortured forever? Keeping a child out of danger is one thing, trying to force someone to feel love for you is insanity.

      June 30, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Kate: I agree. Don't we have laws against that sort of thing? Think we can get jesus arrested for stalking?

      June 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
    • Gabe Lawrence

      @Kate Maybe that's God's intention all along...to keep you safe.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
    • Kate

      Uh, so your point is your God made me an atheist to protect me from his insane desire to make me love him by threatening me with the eternal damnation of not having to love him?

      OK, I think I made myself dizzy with that one.

      July 1, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
    • Gabe

      @Kate It's your choice to put your faith in the logical models that have brought you to where you are in your disbelief for God. I know, I was there once (I wasn't raised a Christian). I'm no theologian, so I'll never claim to completely understand why God chose Heaven and Hell as motivational tools (or whatever you want to call them), but like your faith in atheism (belief in no belief) it is what it is. Like I wouldn't want my son to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair because of falling several stories to the ground, God doesn't want you to spend eternity in Hell. He made it so easy but you've chosen to not only make it hard, but to completely turn your back on it. Could I give you one challenge. Prayer to God can be done "in your closet", meaning one-on-one (not in the midst of another human). When you are alone, proclaim my first prayer...I'll recite it for you: "F- Y– god! If you're so real, PROVE IT. Until that time, I don't believe. Science has all my answers." I didn't know it was a prayer at the time, but it certainly was. My revelation was a rough ride, complete with a couple of jail times (county, not super-max), drunkness and drugs (I know...sounds like Glen Beck) but 3 LONG years later I came to believe and when I least expected it. He will reveal Himself, if you would only let Him.

      July 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
    • Gabe Lawrence

      Oh, to clarify, I forgot to put my last name in on the PC I was using last night…I’m the “Gabe” that just posted above this (I know, I know…duh!) And, after re-reading my post, it sounds like I was in jail for “3 long years”…I didn’t mean to imply that (not that it really matters). The 3 long years were just a rough ride and during that time I did some jail time for silly stuff (but stuff that made me think, “If Mom was standing on the other side of this cell right now, she’d be crying and disappointed in me.”)

      July 2, 2010 at 8:53 am |
    • Kate

      Gabe, science works. Believing a god doesn't. Lots of gods have gone by, people believing in them didn't make them any more real or help anyone get what they wanted. Science made us as a species incredibly powerful.

      The pitch of religion – believe what I say, give me (the humans telling it to you) power and money and don't expect results until I'm long gone is pretty much the same spiel that any con-man will give you.

      Sorry Gabe, I see no way you have the knowledge you say you have. You don't get my respect or belief. You have no knowledge of your god or what he wants or any other gods. Perhaps if you stopped playing power games and spoke honestly you would be more respectable to people who aren't completely gullible.

      July 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • Gabe Lawrence

      Kate, No one can possibly know they're 100% certain that their belief (even "no belief") is right, but we can have 100% faith that we're right. I'm not convinced that you've figured out that difference. For what it's worth....good luck with your certainty. I plan to stick to my faith. (Pray the prayer...it costs you nothing)

      July 2, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
    • Kate

      LOL Gabe, science is by definition never certain, whilst religious faith by definition is no matter what new knowledge is gained. Pardon me for finding your reply very ironic.

      July 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  3. Tom

    Ward, becasue God is a personal relationship, a believer communicates with the Lord and feels Him working in us. So just as I believe in the material world, I believe in the spiritual world and so when you know what is real, you are don;t believe you are wrong. Now that being said, the first order of businessis humilty and not to assume we know everything.

    June 30, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  4. Dori

    You will know a Christian by their change and if you see no change then Christ is not involved.While it is true,we need no book to guide us in Gods direction it is a Spiritual tool to uplift ones soul.I personally blog on carepages.com to uplift the souls of others who are in the midst of their storms of life,as I was.In order to know God one must 1st seek God and this usually comes at a time of loss,be it financial,personal or other.One must come to the bottom of themselves in order to learn how not be be this worldly.I, like many have been put into the class of Christian and I do not feel I belong there.I am often asked what religion I am and I answer,none,my father is God.No one has to love me,no one has to listen because if you are supposed to be with God he will surely let you know and bring you to your knees in the process. My blogs are never harsh and insensitive,check them out on carepages,my post is DMC

    June 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  5. Murray

    As a non-religious person I'm often confronted with discussions where it is difficult to find common ground because certain religions (I wont name names) isn't grounded in logic or basic reasoning. When two people don't share a common set of fundamental world views or ways to interpret shared experiences, there will be alot more talking past each other and the perception that the other guy is a jerk.

    June 30, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  6. Ken

    To "Shawn" re: "we should conforming our live to scripture". This is the problem with religion in other parts of the world, they are conforming thier lives to scripture. Isn't religion about belief? If a person truly believes is that not enough? This is the narrow-minded approach of most rel;igions, they are told to excercise their belief...not to re-assure their belief but to excercise it. I once believed in one religion but after watching and hearing about all the abuse regarding priests and nuns I am now a non-believer. According to what I have previously learned through church iis the devil will appear as god. I think that is where we're at. I returned my own faith and now believe Christianity is the work of the devil. Take a look at all the scandals regarding priests and the church. I thank my beliefs for not following the Christian church.

    June 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Evil exists everywhere. The fact that some priests in the Catholic church have behaved abominably does not take away from the truth of Christianity. But you raise an interesting issue re: belief and exercise of that belief. As a Christian, I believe that if you have faith in Christ, you can be saved from the prison of your sins. You do not "earn" that salvation through good works, for it is impossible for any of us to ever be that good (perfect). But, if you truly do have faith, I believe that faith will manifest itself in your everyday life and decisions so that your beliefs and love of God and your neighbors will be evident. The Bible refers to this as showing the "fruits of the spirit," which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatations 5:22-23. But again, none of us are perfect and will always reflect these "fruits" at all times. That's when forgiveness and understanding are necessary.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  7. Ward

    A quick question if I may,

    If you are faithful and a believer can you also believe it's possible you are wrong?

    June 30, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
    • Eric G

      Good question. I asked earlier if a believer had the chance to confirm that there definately was or was not a god, would they want to know? Nobody answered.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • dan

      probably just because of the large amount of comments
      i, for one, absolutely would!
      how's that?

      June 30, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • MeMeAndMe

      I was a believing and faithful conservative evengelical Protestant Christian for most of 10 years and yet I **DID** leave part of my mind open to the possibility that I could be wrong. This is because, above all, I am INTELLECTUALLY HONEST. That is, I am, above all, a TRUE truth seeker: I try to ascertain truth as best as I can and I go WHEREVER the truth takes . . . whether that path is pleasing to me or not, whether it is what I hoped for or not, whether it is what I expected or imagined the truth would be or not. THAT is what you can call a "TRUE truth seeker". It just so turns out that I eventually left Christiantiy and now consider myself agnostic and a secular humanist. I may be right, I may be wrong, or I may be partly right and partly wrong . . . how can anyone really know the ultimate truth regarding such matters? You work with the best faculties you have; that's all you have to go with.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Dan: What would the consequences be of that knowledge being known by everyone? One. There is a god. What book is really his word? Which religion had it right? Am I going to a bad place because I had shellfish at Red Lobster last night? How many non-believers are to be killed today?.............. or...........Two. There is no god. We made the whole thing up. Sun comes up tommorow as scheduled. Nobody can hide behind religion to justify their hatered of others who are, or think differently. I would want to know.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
    • dan

      i thought thats what i said?
      i would definitely want to know haha. sorry for any sort of miscommunication

      June 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • Gabe Lawrence

      These questions are difficult to answer because there’s no answer. If I’m a “true believer” then that’s final. Your question and it’s answer if it exists has no purpose in my life…regardless if the answer is “yes”, “no”, or “maybe”. If that’s difficult to understand, consider this…(this is also the same question I pose too all that need “proof” that God exists, like Eric G.)

      If God had proclaimed his existence every day at Noon with a loud booming voice for the entire planet to here (yes, even the deaf and dumb), and he did this every day, even since Adam and Eve….”YES, I’m STILL HERE and I STILL LOVE YOU”….there would still be non-believers. I have NO idea what their theories would be, but they would be here because that’s how Satan works. How much EASIER is it for Satan to work when all we need to do is have FAITH that God exists (and that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life) yet he won’t “prove” it.

      Now, knowing that theory, how are we going to prove each other right or wrong? We can’t. So let me pose this question: If you believe what you believe so fervently, then what are you offering me? (Hint: I believe what I believe so fervently that no matter what you offer, it’s not going to be enough, so the discussion is pointless). You call it closed minded and I call it THE ONLY HOPE I HAVE ON THIS MUDBALL (no I’m not shouting…it’s emphasis!) 😉

      Jesus loves you and you need to come home.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Gabe: Thanks for your reply. I agree that a "true believer" would not want to know. That would destroy their need of faith. A pastor friend of mine had that answer too. He could not answer the next question, maybe you can help me out with it? If it is not important for you to know and verify your beliefs as reality, why should I take your beliefs seriously?

      June 30, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
    • Gabe Lawrence

      @Eric G. A VERY good question and I’m sure you’re going to think I’m dodging the answer but I assure you, I’m NOT a politician. 😛

      I’m from the mindset that no matter what a person calls their belief (agnostic, atheist, Darwinism, etc, etc, etc), it all requires faith. Do you agree? Many say a Christian lacks proof, but it’s just as hard for me to believe that two rocks clacked together to form the known (and unknown) universe(s) or whatever other theories are out there. What is proof? My experience with proof is simply that when a question is answered, more questions are presented. I’ll be the first to agree, that “IF” I’m wrong and Christianity is all just a bunch of successful mind-controlling propaganda left-over from times of limited communication, then this post and everything I’ve ever believed will be laughed at. That’s ok. Because if I’m right…then I’ll be in Heaven. The fact is, we’ll all exist on this planet anywhere from 1 second to 150 years (give or take a year or two 😉 ) and then we’ll die. It’s the answers afterward that we’ll never know now or be able to communicate afterward so I’m just happy that I’ve been presented with the truth and “bought into it”. Eric, all I have is what the Bible promises (Heaven and the like) and frankly, it’s all I need.

      June 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Gabe: Thank you for your thoughts. I do not agree with your belief that being an non believer requires "faith". (I think you referenced Darwins theory of evolution as a belief?) The rest of your response was a version of Pascal's wager, kind of a "what is the harm in believing" approach. The problem with pascals wager is that it assumes that belief is benign. If the news today shows us anything, it is that belief is not benign. So, my logical conclusion from your statements is that it really does not matter to you if your belief is correct or not. It makes you feel good and you are not concerned with it's lack of a connection to reality. Thank you for being honest.

      June 30, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • Kate

      An atheist by definition is without belief in a god/s. An agnostic by definition says there cannot be proof either way for the existence or non-existence of a god/s. So, no, faith cannot exist without belief in something.

      June 30, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      Ward, I love Jesus Christ with all my heart and the things that He has revealed to me, not just through the Bible, but my personal life, I can say, God can never go wrong when He reveals His Truth and presence to those who believe. We are not perfect and that is why we need the help of the Holy Spirit to guide us into Gods Truth. Jesus Christ said He would send us the Holy Spirit of God to teach, lead, help, and guide us. When it comes to the REAL truth of God, NO, we can't go wrong. Why? Because we have the help of the Holy Spirit to show us, who are really interested in God.

      God bless you!

      July 1, 2010 at 10:26 am |
    • Gabe Lawrence

      @Eric So you have faith in the news?

      July 1, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • Kate

      I love these proclamations of REAL truth (caps because that makes it more real) and what God wants because we all know if you just say something in caps, that makes you the expert and to be RESPECTED.

      Having stuff 'revealed' to you that no one else hears is not a sign of sanity. Just saying something means absolutely nothing, other than it sounds like you are feeling a lack of self worth and think this will help you look big. And why do theists do this continually? Are you all having self image problems? That's what it comes across as.

      July 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
    • Gabe

      @Kate You are a very effective communicator with the written word. I could see how you miss what others may be trying to do. For me, I don't consider myself terrible with writing, but I'm not NEARLY as good as you (caps for emphasis). My experience has been that many on forums are still trying to find their blogging legs...meaning trying to figure out how to say with their fingers and keyboard what they would say with hand gestures, eye gestures, vocal variations, and spoken words. I feel this way because I'm STILL trying to get mine (caps, meaning ALL THESE YEARS).

      July 1, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
    • Kate

      Gabe, the post I was replying to is now gone. It wasn't yours and was pretty silly.

      July 2, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  8. Katie

    Interesting and thoughtful observations. I am highly reluctant to call myself a Christian because of all the negativity displayed by so many prominent, publically avowed Christians, not to mention the outright hypocrisy of some of them (the evangelical ministers who get caught fooling around, eg.) I've been dismayed in Bible study class to hear people argue about whether or not to shun someone for not living up to their terms of Christian behavior (their term was to "be nice" to said person) and I find it downright upsetting that people clothe their hate with selected quotes from the Bible, as if one line from Leviticus outweighs something said in Psalms or Song of Solomon, forgetting entirely that their pledge to Jesus' teachings might overrule anything they use from the Old Testament to justify their phobias. I think many Christians are easily shaken, which lends a certain fragility to their faith. Instead of looking inward to find peace and oneness with God, these Christians resort to placing blame and finding fault with others, elevating themselves by comparison. Tolerance, respect, and forgiveness all fall by the wayside when Christ's teachings are ignored when people feel vulnerable about their own beliefs. I think it's time to take the emphasis off everyone and let each person find his own path to God without anyone else's direction or criticism.

    June 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  9. Matt

    The stereotypical Christian is both ignorant and hateful, so I can't say I'm surprised by any of this.

    Nobody needs religion to know that you should respect those you live around. I have to give it up to the commentors in the thread though. Way to demonstrate exactly what the blogwriter demonstrated, aka throwing literal threats at this guy.

    All of you that have done that are a bunch of southern baptist republicans who are ignorant about life itself. Way to ensure that religion gets respect. And you wonder why people are atheists.

    Ken and Katie are quite accurate.

    June 30, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • Tom

      See reponse to Katie. Seems you all have plenty of hatred and intolerance of your own. When looking for faults, the best place to look first is at yourself. Once you write or say something, go back to it and see how productive and loving it is.

      June 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
    • Katie

      Tom, instead of instantly applying labels like "hateful" to others who don't agree with you, maybe you should take your fingers off the keyboard and consider that maybe, just maybe, the opinions of others might have some merit.

      I don't think that's going to happen, though. With people like you, it's always everyone else's fault. It's easier to criticize than it is to look in the mirror.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • Tom

      Katie, I am not applying a label. I am identifying your words and behavior – it's hateful and prejudiced. If you don't care to be called out on your behavior, then live in solitude. A person is known for thier fruits, look at what you write and look in the mirror before you go and attack others.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  10. Ellen

    What a response, huh? 🙂 Writing as a Christian himself, I think the author has every right to call out his fellow brothers and sisters on their behavior (if his reminders are based on Biblical principles, which, generically, they are). Being human, of course we have screwed up time and time again the true essence of being a follower of Jesus, but the whole point is that, while we were YET SINNERS, Christ died for us. Of course we're going to mess up, but that's not an excuse to continue doing so. Thus, the need for accountability from each other (of course, if it's delivered in love). I think the article delivers that in a humorous way. Interesting how most comments though have turned into attacks on Christianity (ironic, don't ya think?).

    June 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  11. Ken

    Christians are the same here in Canada as they are everywhere else. They lack the worldly experience to make educational remarks. In short, they are narrow minded by theri beliefs. Around here they seem to have more hate than love. If they believe their teachings then they would be non-judgemental towards their fellow man.

    June 30, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
    • Tom

      JUst be sure you understadn what being judgemental is – saying another is going to heaven or hell is judgemental. However, if you are saying that someone's behavior is wrong and hurting themselves or others – that is what you call holding people accountable and speaking the truth.

      June 30, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
  12. Katie

    Why are Christians so hateful online? Well, it's not limited to online only. They're the biggest jerks you'll ever meet in real life, too. Hypocritical, mean, hateful, and intolerant. Really, I don't know how you live with yourselves. Going to church once a week does not a good Christian make. I know plenty of atheists who are better Christians than you are. Christians cannot argue in good faith using logic, so they use other methods of attack that's just a smokescreen to hide the fact they have no idea what they're talking about.

    Tell you what. You mind your business and I'll mind mine. Don't tell me what books to read or try to have them censored. Don't tell me what films to watch or try to have them pulled. If you choose not to read or watch certain things, that's your prerogative. But you don't have the right to try to force other people to bend to your will or try to coerce them into believing as you do.

    Oh, and for heaven's sakes, stay out of politics. If we let you guys run the country, we'll end up like Iran, only worse.

    June 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • Tom

      Katie, you are just as hateful and bigoted as those you accuse. You stereotype a label and assume all are the same without regard to looking at each individual and their behavior.

      June 30, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
    • dan

      sadly, i'd have to partially agree with you katie, even being a christian myself. often christians are quite unchristlike like they claim to say they're trying to be. i don't think i would take it to your extreme, however (you realize the comment you wrote was written on a post written by a guy saying christians are often jerks and shouldn't be right? its not like he's bashed you on the head with jesus or anything). often christians can be very judgmental and overbearing, sometimes without realizing it. i would honestly like to apologize for the christians who gave you that impression of christianity, because they're really not a good example of showing god's love like we're supposed to do.

      good article by the way jon!

      June 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • MeMeAndMe

      Dan,

      What I will say here is meant this in a tone of civlity and respect for your dignity and the dignisty of other Chrisitans, though it will be critical. You see, Dan, even if varied Christians are of gentle demeanor, good manners, and congenial personalities (instead of being "abrasive" or "jerks" as the article refers to), just using phrases like "showing you God's love" or saying "I'll pray for you" rubs a person wrong. It is apparent in such remarks that such persons go through their lives with the tacit assumption that they actually "know" (in a epistemological sense) that there is, in fact, a God; that they "know" this god by name and what this god's will is; that they "know" what happens after we die; that they and this god have a communications channel established between themselves and therefore this God listens to and addreses their "prayers"; et al. Just saying this (even with a big ear-to-ear smile on your face and a gentle demeanor), runs the risk of being offensive to others that aren't like you. It is saying to them, in essence: " I know God, you don't . . . nah nah nah nah nah", "I have a special connection with the divine, you don't . . . nah nah nah nah nah", "I have special faculties and powers of perception that you don't have . . . nah nah nah nah nah", "I know truth, you don't, you are lost unless you become just like me", etc. etc. etc. Let me say it point blank, Dan: the fact of the matter is that you and your fellow believers do NOT know God any more than I or anyone else does; you are as clueless about such matters as I and everyone else is. Note that I do not think of myself as an atheist but rather as an agnostic. I don't claim to know the ultimate truth (I didn't say that I don't WANT to know or that I don't CARE about it . . . I care very very much and want to know but simply am not equipped to know). And I'm of the view that neither you nor anyone else is equipped to know the answers to such questions either . . . and this is WITHOUT EXCEPTION. Now, if you and your fellow believers want to go through life thinking you have special divine knowledge that others do not have and that you have a connection with some supreme being that others do not have, It impacts on no one else if you choose to believe this . . . AS LONG AS YOU KEEP IT TO YOURSELVES. Stop trying to spend your lives hoisting your beliefs in our faces, down our throats, up our rear ends, and into our public and poliitical life (I don't mean simply expressing viewpoints in the public and political realm– which is fine and acceptable for anyone - but trying to legislate your beliefs and scriptures into public law . . . to ultimately try to turn our society or the whole world into some semblance of a theocratic society). Keep it a personal matter and be content with yourselves. Is that fair enough? I myself don't T claim to know "the truth" or "the ultimate truth" (if there even is an "ultimate truth"); I preach the gospel of "I don't know . . . and neither do you . . . so let's just tolerate one another and get along, shall we?"

      By the way, I used to be a conservative evangelical Protestant Chrisitian believer myself and was a rather accomplished preacher – teacher – apologist for the faith. So I speak as both a one-time insider to the believing world and now as an outsider. Interesting, isn't it?

      Good day and peace.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  13. Tom

    The most comical thing we as people do, regardless of one's beliefs or religion, is convince ourselves that we can expect people to be perfect in carrying out our beliefs. We all hold each other to a humanly impossible standard and then are just flabbergasted when someone says or does something wrong or inappropriate. Bottomline is that whether you are religious, spiritual or atheist, all will fall short of being perfect. So what is the answer? Forgiveness and bolstering one another to be better. It is actually amazing to see the results of mercy and encouragement.

    June 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  14. Koowan

    I am not a Christian largely because of the way I have been treated by Christians in the past. I can't imagine belonging to a religion that condones the behavior I have witnessed and the abuse I have been subjected to.

    June 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • Dan Lilledahl

      I am TRULY sorry for the abuse you took from Christians. When I first became a Christian I was verbally and emotionally abused by a few people in my single's group – hardly a good way to make an impression. I was left wondering how these people could attend church, go to a Christian college, and still sit around making fun of others and telling gays and lesbians to "go back in the closet!"

      I am still a Christian and have gone through much counseling for depression, but also anger that I have had towards MANY Christians who should have known better, but didn't.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  15. coyotemom

    I once had a job that required me to work at a different church each Sunday (think blood drives). We were always asked by the churches to come out to their church, we didn't just show up. When I first took the job I thought I would be working with nice people. After 17 years on the job I had to admit that christians were the nasiest, rudest, most hated filled people I had ever met. I shudder now every time someone tells me they are a christian.

    June 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • Koowan

      My experience has been the same. I would genuinely like meet people who live the way Jesus teaches, but I'm 49 years old and have met fewer than 5 people in my entire life who I could say actually do. My personal experience has been that people call themselves Christians and it doesn't mean they live by (or often have even read) the teachings of their own prophet.

      June 30, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  16. Really?

    Wow. really? This is bad. people cant look past the tiniest details into the great message here. Most christians unfortunately are hypocrites, myself included and online commenting is where a lot of hate is spewed. I think what is trying to be said by john is that even though it happens other places it also happens online alot. So people open your eyes, see the bigger picture and take it for what its worth.

    Thought article was great
    I suck at spelling... and grammer. Please forgive me. (no pun intended)

    June 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  17. peanut72

    i like what Ghandi said, "I like your Christ, but not your Christians". I was baptized Congregationalist and in adulthood choose both Buddhism- it is a philosophy as even Buddha stated, and Quakerism. I am turned completely off by the hatred I see from a lot of the more fundamental types. I have faith, more then what most people would think, my faith is such that I am not threatened by other religions, in fact I strive to recognize the truth, the light , in all others. I can't wrap my head around that this is the only way. If God is all knowing, all powerful, wouldn't the message be able to be told in many different ways, and in many different tongues? Can't we all honor God in our own way? We claim to know God like a flea on a elephant claims to know the elephant. We can all be jerks, we're human. It's part of our experience. I also don't understand how we can not be part of this world when we have neighbors; aren't our neighbors our fellow human beings. Maybe instead of trying convert people should try to respect each and see the light of God in every person that comes into this world, whether they are a jerk or not.

    June 30, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  18. Gary

    Golden rule is golden ....As an agnostic who has read bible @ least twice some books of it several times it is an interesting book. but who needs to read a book to know not to kill,steal and cheat on your wife ?

    June 30, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
    • dan

      thats great that you've read and considered the bible! but i'm afraid you've kind of missed the point in the sense that it's not ultimately about rules, its about having a relationship with god! just thought i'd mention thattt

      June 30, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
    • Kate

      LOL, how handy that you were here to explain what the bible never says. Obviously you must be more powerful than your God to have a better idea what he wants than he does. Next time he comes down to talk, I'll let him know your change of plan for him.

      June 30, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
    • dan

      when jesus came he didn't come to set up more rules for people to follow, and actually opposed the pharisees and priests when they lived strictly by the rules and followed them for traditions sake rather than for god's.

      also, thanks for being respectful just like you would want me to be to you!

      June 30, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
    • Kate

      Jesus made up plenty of rules. Some were even pretty violent. You might want to go read that bible again. I don't need respectful, all I ask is for you to honestly think things through.

      July 1, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  19. Bill

    When it comes to christianity Ghandi said it best..."I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians, They are so unlike your Christ."

    June 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
  20. bellestarrr

    u folks are making this very difficult..christians are not just jerks online....they can be jerks in a lot of other respects..jesus didnt come to found a RELIGION..he came to teach us how to live and set an example...whenever u hear hate or judgement or venom coming from a "Christian"..they aren't following the teachings..they are wrapped up in the pseudo religion they have founded. If people followed the teachings there would be no wars, no discrimiination, no self rightous judgements etc. I do not favor "religions" I say walk the walk .....talk is cheap...

    June 30, 2010 at 3:01 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.