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. Mark

    I grew up christian, went to communion, had confession, the whole nine yards. It all seemed nice and perfect and I had no reason to believe any of it wasn't true. But when I went out of school and into the world, I found that most people who call themselves christians don't follow the message of love that I grew up with. All I saw was bigotry hiding behind a fictional book. That's when the first seeds of doubt were planted in me, and over the next few years I became an atheist as I realized this stuff just doesn't make any sense. The world isn't 6,000 years old, it's not flat, it's not the center of the universe, leprosy isn't caused by sinning, witches don't exist...and I asked myself why I was building my worldview from a book purportedly written by an all-knowing creator but has a lot of overtly false info.

    That being said...Jesus's message of love is a beautiful thing for people to believe in, even if it isn't true. But people who hide their bigotry behind religion and use it as a vehicle for hate and oppression drive me insane.

    June 29, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
    • Kitty

      Oh, but witches do exist. However, that does not change the fact that christianity is a lie.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  2. Charles

    I'm with you. There's far too much Christian mudslinging online...

    P.S. RE: Love. What is it? What does it mean, 'love God' and 'love your neighbor'? Marks rendition of Jesus' response to the question of the two most important commandments shed's light on the evidence of love. There is a slight but important difference between Mark and Matthew...

    In, Mark 12:28-31, quoting Deut. 6:4, Jesus begins with "Hear..." What in the world does this mean? 😉

    How do I know that I love God? How do I know that I love my neighbor?

    June 29, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  3. Andy

    I never felt like cleaning my room when a paper is due. I actually feel a desire to do the paper. I don't get the room cleaning thing at all.

    June 29, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
    • Andy walks with me...

      I'm going to follow Andy. I always did my homework too.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  4. emilymueller143

    Maybe the real reason that I'm a jerk – both online and in real life – is because I'm a sinner, in need of a Savior.

    I'm realizing this more and more everyday, that I'm a giant jerk and it makes me so sad. But I take joy in fact that Jesus, in mercy, decided to die for sinners. Not righteous men. Not saints. Not people standing in a pulpit with a halo. Sinners.

    People. Knees in the dirt, blood on their hands, hate in their mouths and selfishness in their hearts. That's who He died for.

    And I'm the worst of them. Thank God for grace.

    June 29, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • Barb

      AMEN! Great one Emily! God bless you for being so honest! If more Christians were as humble and honest as you, there would be no need for this topic! We ALL need a Savior, because we ALL fall very short of God's righteous standard – holiness. We have no hope outside of that fact. Those who don't want to acknowledge Him are the very people He came to save. But, they will have to find out sooner or later for themselves. If not while on earth, then they will meet Him after they die. Because no one can prevent the inevitable that comes to all of us.

      June 30, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
    • Katie

      Kind of convenient, isn't it? Using Jesus' death as an excuse for you to sin? "yeah, I'm a jerk, but it's ok, Jesus died for my sins, and I'm going to be forgiven" Sort of begs the question why should anybody worry about sinning? Why follow any rules? Jesus loves you anyway.

      Except that's not exactly what it means to be a Christian, is it? Didn't Jesus say "go and sin no more" ? Isn't that the point of understanding your sins? To repent and not to repeat them?

      July 1, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  5. Stuart

    The historical evidence for the abrahamic religions is nonexistent. 99% of christians know nothing about the origins of the new and old testaments. If jesus, the holy spirit, and god are one then jesus did give sanction to slavery, the sale of daughters, genocide, and blood sacrifice. Paul, who invented christianity, was an epileptic sociopath. All you groovy christians need an education in philosophy. The Epicurian questions stand.

    June 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
    • W0lfman

      The Epicurian questions are just word play. I believe you don't want to go below the surface and find out for yourself what the truth really is.

      June 29, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  6. SomeGuyInNC

    The reason Christians like being jerks online? Because most don't need a computer to be jerks in the first place.
    Most of the self-proclaimed Christians I've met make every effort to avoid thought. Accepting Jesus, the Bible, etc. is used as an impetus not to interpret, question, or understand, but instead as an excuse to follow, conform, and condemn.
    Memo to Jesus: Fire your sales force. I'm not impressed.

    June 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
    • W0lfman

      Accepting Jesus is at the pinnacle of understanding and goes beyond thought to a realm you simply have not experienced yet.

      June 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • Jordan

      your spot on

      June 29, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
    • SomeGuyInNC

      "A realm not experienced yet."
      You're basically saying that because you've accepted Jesus, you need not think anymore. This is sad.

      June 29, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
    • salmo8318

      In my opinion many so-called "Christians" allow their zeal to overshadow their mental abilities and forget that true Christians ought to be peaceable and reasonable and able to give a defense of anybody asking about their faith. Unfortunately, this is far too often (again in my humble opinion... not passing judgment here) due to a superficial knowledge of the Scriptures.

      The apostle Paul (a true first-century Christian) reasoned with Greek philosophers in Areopagus (ACTS 17) and appropriately made references to the Scriptures. He did so in an effort to reach their hearts. Was he successful? Most mocked him when he spoke of the resurrection of the dead; however, some followed him and became believers. Its interesting to note that Paul, who was initially named Saul was a persecutor of Christians (ACTS 8), as in he had lots of zeal but not according to "accurate knowledge". He was rather fortunate in that he was made a "chosen vessel" likely due to his great zeal (as God could see his heart); however, that didn't keep him from suffering greatly for the good news as it wasn't easy back then (nor today) to share what he was forcibly taught to realize.

      June 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      Well personally I think when you are talking about "a realm beyond thought" it is along the lines of "the peace which passes all understanding" ... it doesn't mean you're now on automatic and you don't even need to think for yourself anymore. ...I don't think! Because then you are not "you". What is accepting Jesus if *you* are obliviated in the process? I think a lot of the language that is people can use to describe this kind of mysticism scares people away, when really, in my experience, it is not something creepy or like in science fiction. But I don't know how far I would agree with everyone on this board.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      And having said that I am not a very good Christian, I guess. I don't go to church and most of the time when I'm around people who proclaim themselves to be Christians I think yeh no thank you (can't think why)! Instead of arguing with people and quoting scriptures I don't pretend I have all the answers and I don't think any of us really do.

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

      I do agree that some christians use "faith' as an excuse to not think about the nature of their religion or mythology. anyone who has read the old testament should question the nature of god and his goodness. and yet i know people who embrace it all without question. questioning is healthy and natural.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • W0lfman

      SomeGuyInNC: I'm sorry you are sad, but don't be. What do you want me to think about? Thought alone is not integrated – thought must be combined with the physical to be meaningful. For example, thinking you love someone, and then actually loving them, are two different things.

      June 29, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
    • W0lfman

      Mary: One word bothers me the way people use it here – faith.

      Faith is not the same as belief; in its true meaning, faith cannot be blind.

      First there is belief, then there is faith. Faith is that force which you use to adhere to that in which you have chosen to believe. For example, a faithful husband believes that he loves his wife, and his belief is true, and he is true to her.

      I believe in God, because it has been proven to me that He is; now my faith keeps that belief alive.

      June 29, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
    • Captain Nemo

      >Accepting Jesus is at the pinnacle of understanding and goes beyond thought to a realm you simply have not experienced yet.

      We have a winner! One comment sweeps all three categories!

      Obnoxious, self-righteous smugness
      Rude condescension
      Utter non-rationality

      It is comments like that which give Christians a bad name; the pity of it is you will never let yourself see why. Knowing this will fail, nevertheless I shall work to help you see.

      Try this reversal of roles and see how you feel: I believe that a Christian's unbelievably stupid failure to worship and fear and believe in and be prostrate before and feel inferior to the Invisible Purple Unicorn and the Flying Spaghetti Monster proves them a feeble, hopelessly worthless human who will spend eternity in torment.

      Bet you don't like it, even though you know I'm not serious but am using hyperbole to make a point.

      Well, neither do we enjoy your blithely unleashing on us such impolite rejection, especially as we know you DO mean it, every vile, judgemental word of it.

      July 7, 2010 at 12:07 am |
  7. Michael

    I know why... Could it be that there is nothing special about being a Christian?

    June 29, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • W0lfman

      Nothing special at all. It is God who is special.

      June 29, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
    • Eric G

      @W0lfman: What would be special is if you could prove your god exists.

      June 29, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
    • Kim

      @Eric G

      Actually, he doesn't need proof.
      I don't believe God exists, but I don't need to prove he does not.
      Belief is just that. Belief.
      If W0lfman wants to believe God exists, then why does he need proof?

      On one hand, I see the point that you are trying to make, that a lot of Christians use their faith as an excuse to force their beliefs and morals on others. However, others' prejudice and intolerance shouldn't be an excuse for our own judgment of others. Let's lead by setting an example, shall we?

      June 30, 2010 at 1:13 am |
    • fred

      faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

      June 30, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  8. Pastor Fred Rochester

    Very few will realize the anger of the Lord Jesus Christ when He walked into the temple and observed a crime. The house of prayer turned into a den of thieves (see Matthew 21:12-17). After He overturned the tables and drove out all those that bought and sold, He ministered healing. Christians that get angry sometimes are angry because the world wants to get rid of righteousness so that sinners can get on with sinning. Forgiveness is always extended but then sinners are ready to chop our heads off. No one is perfect except The Lord Jesus Christ but to call us all jerks is petty name calling consistent with a sinner's spiritual father, the devil. And you would get really offended if I were to call sinners jerks. Hear comes the hate mail. I can feel it already!

    June 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
    • Eric G

      I love you Pastor Fred........... even if I don't believe in your god. Does that make me a sinner?

      June 29, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
    • Barb

      AMEN Brother Fred! Sadly, there's a TON of Christian-bashing going on today! But let a non-believer or a person of another faith be opposed and they spew all the poisonous venom they can, then feel justified doing so!!! It's sheer hypocricy on their part to be completely intolerant, but they only tend to view Christians as intolerant, bigotted or judgmental when their views are not agreed with.

      June 30, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
    • Captain Nemo

      >Very few will realize the anger of the Lord Jesus Christ

      In my experience, Pastor Fred, very few of the more obnoxious Christians (such as Falwell, Robertson, Phelps and so many not-so-famous followers who spread angry hate disguised as Christian love) realize the depth of their own anger or how EVIL it is that they project their rage onto others (especially the hurt, damaged, weak, or fearful) who turn to religion for solace only to be told FROM THE PULPIT that "they are broken, in need of a savior, and if they continue in their sins will go to hell".

      That hellish scarifying is just plain wrong and has nothing to do with the true and blindingly simple message of Rabbi Jeshua ben Jusuf of Nazareth: give lovingkindness.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  9. David

    Jonathan –

    Interesting article. As a Christian I do have to admit how much of a failure I am – that I do NOT live up to the standard that Christ has set for us and to 'love my neighbor as myself'. I have found that I need to ask people for forgiveness frequently because of harsh words, or incosiderate actions. It is a battle every day to live this way, and I thank Jesus for his forgiveness for my short-comings.

    Having said that, I feel that I must point out that there IS confusion about the 'love your neighbor as yourself' commandment. In the letter of 1st John the author (John) says, "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins". God's love for us is that he sent his son so that we might love and live through him, and so our love of others must follow the same line. Our love of others must be pointing people to Jesus, and anything that ultimately falls short of that does not meet God's definition of love.

    Part of the problem is that Christians are called 'unloving' when they are simply being faithful – pointing people to Jesus and telling people that they are broken, in need of a savior, and if they continue in their sins will go to hell. Jesus said this would happen – Matthew 5:11 – people don't like being told they are wrong. We need to be able to distinguish between being faithful to God's commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves by pointing them to Jesus and when someone actually is disobeying the commandment by being a jerk.

    June 29, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
    • Pastor Fred Rochester

      That's an outstanding response.

      June 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
    • W0lfman


      June 29, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • Stuart

      "God either wants to eliminate bad things and cannot, or can but does not want to, or neither wishes to nor can, or both wants to and can. If he wants to and cannot, then he is weak – and this does not apply to god. If he can but does not want to, then he is spiteful – which is equally foreign to god's nature. If he neither wants to nor can, he is both weak and spiteful, and so not a god. If he wants to and can, which is the only thing fitting for a god, where then do bad things come from? Or why does he not eliminate them?" Epicurious

      June 29, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
    • reed

      "Part of the problem is that Christians are called 'unloving' when they are simply being faithful – pointing people to Jesus and telling people that they are broken, in need of a savior, and if they continue in their sins will go to hell."

      – First, I respect your views and beliefs. However, I am one who considers myself spiritual, tries to live morally and follow the Golden Rule as it were, but not as per a specific organized religion. That said, I have in my experience encountered very well-meaning people who have, sometimes rather blatantly, "pointed me to Jesus". If you were referring to the act of living your life faithfully and morally, living and showing others by example, then I very much respect your view. If you believe that actively proselytizing those who do not share your exact faith is a part of your duty, then while I respect that, I do have to ask, how does this spiritually benefit those you are addressing?
      Not in a "quote the Bible" sense, but why should others feel that their choices and beliefs are inferior, or that, specifically to quote your post, "they are broken, in need of a savior, and if they continue in their sins will go to hell"? This absolute, judgemental, "fire-and-brimstone" aspect of some religion is what has always disturbed and confused me greatly.
      I have been reading these posts with great interest, and have learned a great deal from people of various viewpoints – all excellent reading and well appreciated. But I still cannot fathom this mindset even after reading carefully; it remains inscrutable. Should an integral part of our faiths be to lessen the faiths and choices of others? It just seems like a paradox compared to the other observations here, and it confuses me. Thank you for your post, and thank everyone else here for the insightful (and non-insulting) posts today.

      June 30, 2010 at 8:23 am |
    • Barb

      I agree with Pastor Fred – VERY well written David! I wholeheartedly agree with Gil T that there are PLENTY of solid believers on here with good, NON-vitriolic messages that defend the faith. Thank you for using compassion and intelligence to combat the unbelief displayed by many on here. We are called to be witnesses, but many people DO NOT like to be reminded of God. They want to persist in going their own way, living by their own standards, but someday every person comes to a dead end. Jesus was the only person who defeated death, and the only way we can, so I want to be on HIS team! You have to come to end of yourself, eventually, one way or the other. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess – maybe not today, but someday. Timothy Shrout – you are so right about "Pharisee-ism 2.0." Jesus himself pronounced 7 woes on the Pharisees in Matthew 23 who he repeatedly called hypocrites. Many people say, "I don't go to church because it's full of hypocrites." Ironically, they are agreeing with Jesus, who they are supposed to be going to church to worship, not the people there who may not be living without hypocrisy of some form. He alone is perfect and worthy of praise! True Christians should agree with God... "As it is written, No one is righteous, not even one!".. Romans 3:10 We all need God's grace, mercy and forgiveness because we all fall short of His glory. But we are NOT to glory in our sins either, like many do! We are to be broken before Him, agree that we need help, and accept what from Jesus what we cannot do for ourselves! That's God's free gift and the good news that Christians are supposed to proclaim to all the world! AMEN!

      June 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • Captain Nemo

      >telling people that they are broken, in need of a savior, and if they continue in their sins will go to hell.

      What an unmitigated load of Calvinist guilt-tripping. You don't see it that way, of course, but to me, telling anyone that is inhumane and evil.

      July 6, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
  10. Brandi

    If you guys want to see some "Christians being jerks online" in action, go read all of the comments on an article about the Seattle Pride Parade that just took place this past weekend on the local news website, KOMO 4. Here's a link: http://www.komonews.com/opinion/kenschram/97315684.html

    Very, very un-Christian like behavior going on in that forum

    June 29, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  11. Lillie

    I have experienced Christian jerks in real life more than I have on-line. Although, the internet allows for anonymity and Christian or secular, God-lover, God-denier, every one of them can and frequently do become jerks because they can hide behind fake names.

    There are so many people I want to reply to on this but I'll just say this, we are called to a higher calling, but that doesn't give us permission to be mean to each other. Calling one another into accountability is not the same as calling a Christian a sinner because they are doing something we disagree with.

    We need to be involved in politics and it doesn't make us liars if we are, Paul used his citizenship to his advantage, we can't do that unless we understand what our citizenship entails. (Politics).

    June 29, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  12. Leonekp

    Why do you people always say that those of us who do not believe in your god "hate god". How do we hate something we don't believe in??
    Just because we dont bend bow and scrap to an Idol we suddenly hate a fictional diety... I think being a jerk is something that happens when you live a lie...

    June 29, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
    • W0lfman

      But you do worship at your own secret temple, your own secret god, in your own secret place... be it intellect, money, power, whatever. Christians can see that; we are not stupid.

      June 29, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
    • verify

      W0lfman: It seems as if you have a need to 'worship' something/someone, but not everyone does. Just because they utilize a commodity or talent, or whatever, doesn't mean they 'worship' it. I'll bet that you eat several times a day... does that mean that you 'worship' food?

      June 29, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
    • W0lfman

      verify, there IS a very fine line you've drawn there, and I'm afraid that maybe I sometimes have worshipped food, but you ARE wrong: we are made with a need to worship. Denying it will not change that, but only intensify the need to fill the gap with the worship of worldly things, which includes human ideas.

      June 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
    • joe

      "Christians can see that; we are not stupid."

      Well, you believe in a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father and can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

      Define stupid?

      June 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
    • verify

      W0lfman: "...we are made with a need to worship." Perhaps *you* are that way, but again, not everyone is. I do not 'worship' anything. I like some things and some people better than others; I enjoy them, respect them, even admire them, and I need certain commodities to survive, but I do not 'worship' them.

      June 29, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
    • W0lfman

      verify, joe: Words are simply in the way here.

      Perhaps here is a statement that you can accept:

      You don't want to believe, and that's all there is to it.

      Well, I do, so you go your way and I'll go mine.

      June 29, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • verify

      W0lfman: Fine. But when you make inane assertions, someone will call you out on them.

      June 29, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
    • W0lfman

      verify: Assertions at least are something other than name-calling.

      June 29, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
    • Mara

      W0lfman, belief or non-belief is *not* a choice.

      one cannot force belief, even if you desperately *want* that comfort. Non-belief is much more profound than that. You can *pretend* belief, you can make the choice to live as if you *did* believe – but unless you actually internalize it and actually BELIEVE...it's nothing but a lie. And if you *don't* believe, you can profess faith all you like, but unless you feel it in your soul, it still non-belief.

      June 30, 2010 at 8:03 am |
  13. Selfish Gene

    When in traffic, I have noticed that the cars that cut people off, speed and swerve are either
    a) a BMW
    b) have a jesus fish or
    c) both

    Your mileage may vary.

    June 29, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
    • ^H

      When discussing Jesus online, I have noticed that the people that post the most are:
      a) the Christians who like to be jerks
      b) the non-Christians who like to be jerks.

      June 29, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
  14. Mark from Middle River

    The only problem I have is that I look upon the actions of other Christians the same that I as a African American look upon bloods and crypts and the like. The same as I would hope that anyone that society attempts to group. I do not lose that much sleep over it. There are Christians that do things online and out in the world that I do not agree with but that them and I am me. Some one here posted that rotten apples and the image of the bunch. This would be the same as me accepting racist views that because some black did something down in Baltimore it makes me look bad. My apologies, it makes that black guy look bad.

    If some Christians are acting bad online then why not just lump them in with those other folks online that act bad.

    June 29, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  15. Bill from Massachusetts

    Great piece but I believe two points need to be addressed.
    A) Throughout the New Testament Jesus and the apostles judged one group more harshley than all others - believers. Believers should know better and thus are held to a higher standard. In other words, followers of Jesus should hold each other accountable just as the apostles held each other accountable and taught the early churches to do the same.
    Jesus and the apostles did NOT judge harshly the actions or thoughts of non-believers. They can't be held to a standard of conduct that they dont believe in or understand. Scripute teaches that the teachings of Jesus are foolishness to the ears of a non-believer.
    B) Christians have gotten waaaaaaay too involved in politics and, as such, have gotten sucked into the political vitriol of the system. Conservatives and Liberals, Deocrats, Republicans and Libertarians dont care about truth ... they care about winning at all cost, no mater who gets hurt. They care about gaining power and pushing agendas.
    But instead of distancing themselves, Christians latch onto a few people that share view on one or two issues. "Oh you're anti abortion? Fabulous ... I will blindly believe whatever you say and ignore that you are a lunatic ojn other issues."
    C) Our battle is not against flesh and blood. We are to bless our enemies, love them and pray for them. Instead of battling people who dont share the same views and beating them over the head with ourw ... how about we reach out to them and love them as Christ taught us to and show them the love of God by our actions, no matter how they may act toward us.

    June 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • W0lfman

      Yes, really. We must not force people to believe – see how far that's getting in Iran! Each person must be allowed to believe in their own way.

      But, I think one of the things that make Christians afraid is that God will curse them because of what the majority do, as happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. Who wants to be included in a punishment that they don't deserve?

      June 29, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      What happened to the all loving, forgiving god? does he still judge? what are rainbows for?

      June 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • W0lfman

      Selfish, even if your question were serious, which I doubt, I would answer: God is not only loving, but just. Are you a parent? What do you do when your children stop listening to you? Parents sometimes must be severe for their children's welfare. You were made in God's image; it is not hard to imagine how He feels.

      June 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • W0lfman

      Selfish, to answer your second question: there will the particular judgment at each person's death, and then the final judgment at the end of time. But, before those, we must live our lives, and by doing evil we lose His friendship and help in this life.

      June 29, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • nick M

      I wrote earlier, but just a point here for you Bill. As much as our forefathers wanted a separation of church and state, there is no way they could have expected us to keep religion out of our politics in the end, and they didn't do it either. If Christians didn't vote within their belief structure, and govern the same way, they would be the only group NOT doing so. Once again I say it's the zealots on both ends of the spectrum that cause the problems for all of us. But the "Live and let live" group of us who are in fact the majority, need to quit hiding our heads in the sand and waiting for it all to be over. Sometimes freedom needs to be fought for, and voted for. The zealots are right now the squeakiest wheels worldwide, and they know how to make it work. Those of us in the moderate zone need to get a little more passionate, and a lot louder.

      July 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  16. Grace

    Know thyself! I recently had to block Facebook postings / news feeds from some of my Facebook friends bc their point of view and their tone / style of communication infuriated me. Rather than putting myself regularly under that fire, I removed the temptation to think ill thoughts about them and then the work of repenting, etc. It was just more info than I needed to take in on a regular basis. I didn't defriend these FB friends, mind you, I just limited the dialogue because I'm not in a headspace or a character space right now (nor perhaps will be in this lifetime) to absorb and totally dismiss attacking, negative and anti-christian postings, tweets, soundbites, broadcasts, etc. I am learning to steer clear and remove myself from the direct line of fire. Doesn't mean I am burying my head in the sand but if you are an alcoholic you don't go to a bar or liquor store. Where we are weak, we should acknowledge and disengage from the temptations as is possible. Perhaps more of us should just simply keep our opinions to ourselves and not post everything that crosses our minds.

    June 29, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      Sure sounds like the head in the sand approach. Maybe you need a livestrong bracelet.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
    • Dan Lilledahl

      Actually Grace, that is a very mature and responsible response. I wish more people would refrain from dumping their garbage online for everyone to see!

      June 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  17. Gil T

    Just want to contribute something I have observed from Christian participants on this blog. It is a bit amusing given Jonathan's article but the truth is I notice the steady flow of pretty solid believers as indicated by their messages.

    June 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      How many women are beaten in good christian homes? That is more private than the internet.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  18. laura

    My ? is...when is it OK to 'write someone off"? When someone has burnt you over and over and over. I know you must forgive them but when is it ok (for sanity sake) to say, "I'm done, my family and I can't take your lies and hatred anymore.'? You can still pray for the person but when is enough enough? In your opinion, is it ever OK to say goodbye, I can't be friends with you anymore b/c you bring me down (to a depressed state)?

    June 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • USN_Atheist

      For the sake of your sanity, well-being and personal space/boundaries it is ok to let someone go. this is of course just my personal opinion as well as what I have done with people who once were my friends yet now, after doing alot of growing up and personal reflection, are in the past and best left there for my own health. It is painful and people won't understand and may even struggle to get back into your life. Do what you have to do for yourself, not to keep others happy...we are not here long enough to be miserable due to the actions of other people especially if we can do something about it. Just a thought.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      I say YES, and if you are at the point of asking these questions the time is now!!

      June 29, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • girlinnc

      Matthew 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

      June 30, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  19. Valerie

    I actually find it hilarious when Atheists and other non-believers "remind" Christians not to "judge others" I mean, if you REALLY do not believe in God, then it really doesn't matter if anyone else's soul gets into Heaven now does it? It doesn't exist, right? LOL!

    On another note, I firmly believe we will be be measured by the measuring stick we use on others, thus making "judgement" fair for all, and I really do not think it is out of my place to call people on sin, after all, it is an obligation to us Catholics to "Instruct the ignorant" (basic grade school catholic teaching)...in turn, I don't mind being called on my shortcomings either....what's the big deal?

    June 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
    • Gil T

      It pleases me to know there are disciples who have a sound, doctrinal understanding of the place and value of judging others. This is rare, indeed. I commend you.

      June 29, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
    • Leonekp

      We are not referring to heaven or hell when we say don't judge others. We are talking in a life sense. So you point is off.
      Also calling us ignorant just goes that one step further in seeing that you are really have no clue about anything other than your how did you say it "basic grade school" yup brainwashed so early I see why you feel the way you do... Nice try though Val just weak on all points.....amen lol

      June 29, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • Valerie S.

      Just to be clear, I posted a comment above and used the same name. I just want to clarify in case the person I replied to reads both of these posts... not the same person. =)

      June 29, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
    • girlinnc

      I believe what Valerie meant was that if someone doesn't believe in God or Heaven then there is no reason to be good.

      June 30, 2010 at 12:10 am |
    • Neilandpray

      Valerie, Non-christians ask Christians not to judge, because, well, it's not your job so you don't need to. God judges everyone at judgement day Christian or otherwise, or is the bible wrong? Who am i to judge?

      July 1, 2010 at 12:56 am |
  20. Becky Miller

    I confess, I have been a jerk Christian online. And in person, too. I thankfully find myself learning to hold my tongue (and typing fingers) more as I get older...but I still let loose some jerk-tastic lines sometimes. Makes me glad for a grace-full God and forgiving friends.

    June 29, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
    • Your typical Jerk

      Learning to hold your tongue means you are just full of hate but learning to control your emotions.
      How about you lose the hate inside and be free.

      June 30, 2010 at 12:03 am |
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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.