If you want to know why I turned my back on “the Church” forever, look no further than this video.
Dawkins is usually annoying, although he’s quiet in this clip. Haggard is the sneering, hateful, ignorant, hypocritical face of American Evangelical Christianity unveiled.
Eleven years of trying to break bread with people like that was enough. How many times did I literally sit at a table with people and listen to them express their hate for everyone like me? Churches were behind enemy lines. If discovered, I would be shot.
Of course I never believed that Christianity itself demanded that I love money, hate gay people, and support bombing babies while I opposed abortions, or any of it. The trouble is, that’s where it led. The strain of belief that moved my heart moved the people around me to nauseating moral, political, and scientific conclusions about the world. And if they wavered an inch, it seemed, they’d lose eternal life. I looked around me at my fellow American evangelicals and saw the Inquisition and the Crusades, not Christ.
Since then, believers and others have often said “Those people and their views should not have killed your faith; they’re not what it’s about. Why can’t you still believe?”
I’ll leave my answer to the man in red type:
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. — Matthew 7:15-17
The fruits of Christianity — and other religions that promise salvation from death — are bitter. I couldn’t practice a faith that was attracting, encouraging, creating murderous chauvinism and warmongering and a hatred of knowledge. Evangelicals supported wars and executions, preferred disease and death to sexual immorality, rejected science, and expressed open hatred for people like me and my family and friends. I could smell brimstone at church. If the New Testament is at all accurate, Jesus was a great guy. But he’s been a terrible influence despite his best efforts.
To the tiny number of people who share my concerns and stay, and try to “light their corner”, I offer this: I respect your courage tremendously. You’re far stronger than I ever was. Every time I was among the faithful I had at least one moment where I had to think: Speak up? Leave? Or just do nothing? I did all three att different times, without changing anyone else’s opinion or doing much for my own conscience.
The rest of you, goodbye and good riddance. I don’t break bread with people like Pastor Haggard.