Pat Robertson. Jerry Falwell. Oral Roberts. Fred Phelps. James Dobson. George W. Bush. Any organization that has "Family" in the name (up to and including American Family Insurance, but that's just because I hate their jingle). The Southern Baptists. And countless others.
"But Chris," I hear some of you object, "they don't speak for all of us Christians! They're addicted to money and power and are a vocal minority!" So I will say fine. If they are a vocal minority and don't share your beliefs, I want you and your churches to take out full page ads and buy airtime and fucking disavow them. You know how some Catholic clergy are stating that pro-life candidates will be refused Communion should they dare to set foot in their churches? I expect you to do the same for these clowns that seem to think that the sentiments "judge not, lest ye be judged," "they will know we are Christians by our love" and "when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (that would be Matthew 6:5-6 for those reading along at home) are as "quaint" as the Geneva Convention. Make it clear, in no uncertain terms, no couched language, no hedged bets, that these people do not speak for you and are not Christians, and maybe I'll start to believe you.
Even better, make some effort to question your faith, to not blindly follow whatever you've been told, to look at evidence and details and actually think about things. Whenever you regurgitate the same tripe about "young earth" and "intelligent design" and God planting fake dinosaur fossils to test our faith, I will point to Occam's Razor and quote Isaac Asimov, "To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today." If you try to trot out "homosexuality is an abomination," I will say, "Leviticus, right? Other 'abominations' include shaving, rabbits, shellfish, wearing clothing of two different fibers, tattoos, cheeseburgers, and vegetable gardens. You gonna demand an end to those things too?" Or maybe just punch them in the junk, one of the two. Quote one, quote 'em all, okay? There's a reason that according to research by the Barna Group:
The most common perception is that present-day Christianity is "anti-homosexual." Overall, 91 percent of young non-Christians and 80 percent of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a "bigger sin" than anything else.It's because this is one tentpole that lets "churchmen," by which I invariably mean Evangelical Christian demagogues currently in or seeking entry to the political arena, rally the faithful around, and it's a very recent phenomenon. For more on this, i refer you to Fred Barnes' (yes, a Christian!) now 5-part series, "Gay-Hatin' Gospel," already in progress.
A bit later in Matthew 6, after teaching his disciples THE prayer ("Our Father..." und so weite, und so fort), Christ goes on to say "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Mat 6:14-15). Now, despite me being a dirty, Commie, pinko, hippie Liberal (and by the way, read all those words printed in red in your New Testament and then try to tell me Jesus wasn't a liberal), I try to be a good person. I don't sacrifice kittens to my Dark Master, I don't cavort about naked in the moonlight, I don't stick pins into a voodoo doll of the Pope. But I do good things not because the Bible commands me to, but because they're the right things to do. In high school (a Jesuit high school, no less!) I learned about the totum bonum, the "greater good" or "greatest good" and it's the same for everyone. -- to make a good life for themself. All right desires aim at real goods or apparent goods that are harmless. Persons motivated by right desires are all the same moral character. Humans, being social collaborative creatures, should find that their liive are best when their search for happiness doesn't impede anyone else's. So even if my virtue is selfish (virtue being it's own revenge, after all), if it leads me to live a good life, what harm does it do? To paraphrase Jefferson, it neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg. "Do what thou wilt, an it harm none!" can rightfully be modified into "That which is hateful to you, do not do unto others." Sound familiar? But this, of course, means that your right to swing your holy book ends at my nose. Once you get your religion in my peanut butter (or political system) all niceties go out the window So expect me to forgive sins and fleeting transgressions, but willful ignorance and stupidity I do not forgive.
And one more thing...I will put my trust in the laws of the universe to the test against your belief in an invisible sky man any day. I know just the physics experiment with which to do it...it involves a length of chain, a bowling ball, an improvised pendulum, and your back (or my back) against a wall. I'll bet I can pull the bowling ball up to my nose, let go, and let it swing away and back toward my face without so much as flinching if you will do the same but then step forward and ask God to make it stop before you get a concussion. I'll still be standing at the conclusion.
Oh, and the much ballyhooed "Evolution being only a theory?" Gravity is only a theory, too, but physics textbooks aren't required to carry a warning label stating such because nobody is stupid enough to think that there's an Intelligent Ball and Chain holding you on the ground.
And if all this has made you angry with me just remember...I'll stop being hostile to your religions if your religions stop being hostile to reason. Except Universal Unitarians...you all are pretty cool because you know that you don't know, and you love it.