bullshit nicer is still bullshit.

yesterday, a christian friend on facebook shared this photo:

when i first read this quip a few years ago, i thought it was profound.

but that was when i was still a fence-riding apologist who thought everyone’s beliefs deserved respect.

now i reject the unthinking notion that beliefs deserve respect simply because they are important to someone. respect is earned. question everything; give respect only to the respectable. i respect everyone’s right to have whatever beliefs they wish, but i do not automatically respect the beliefs themselves.

though “bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry” is a positive, progressive step, as someone who found my way out of devout christian beliefs through a long and difficult process of critical thinking and scrutiny, i still identify an underlying problem in this little adage.

“bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry” often goes hand-in-hand with “hatred is not a christian value.”


the problem is that the bible can be used to justify hatred and love. it can be used to justify bigotry or acceptance. it is not one or the other. it is filled with thousands of contradictions that require great cognitive leaps to accept and which render it impossible to follow entirely.

in other words, backing “bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry” or “hatred is not a christian value” with the bible is cherry-picking. it’s cherry-picking the “nice” parts of the bible. just like the christians who “cherry-pick” the parts of the bible that condemn homosexuality, condone slavery, disallow women in leadership, etc., it’s still deciding which parts of the bible to embrace and which to ignore. because due to its many contradictions, you have to pick and choose your own “brand” or “version” of christianity (there are about FORTY-ONE THOUSAND recognized denominations of christianity, plus all the ones that aren’t officially recognized, plus all the differences between congregations and individuals in all of those.)

it’s the other side of the same coin. it’s doing the same thing, just being nicer about it.

and yes, cherry-picking the “nice” parts of the bible and rejecting the cruel ones is the better choice. but it’s not good enough for me. thinking, caring human beings can do better. if you’re ignoring any part of the bible, you’ve already determined your own moral code.

let me rephrase to be more accurate:

because you’re ignoring parts of the bible, you’ve already determined your own moral code.

you don’t need the bible, so stop hiding behind it. stop being afraid to take credit for where you stand.

your morals did not come from the bible.

you determined your morals (first) and use the bible to back them up (second).

you did this because you are a thinking, feeling human being. you are not a mindless drone who needed a book – a contradictory book, no less – to inform you of what kindness feels and looks like, or that you shouldn’t murder people (…..really?!).

“bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry” is nice, but it’s not the end. if you don’t want to be a bigot, don’t be one.

but don’t credit the bible.

because it supports you if you do want to be a bigot.


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9 thoughts on “bullshit nicer is still bullshit.

  1. Hi. I’m a devout Christian. I enjoyed reading your post. Obviously, as you would expect I disagree with most of what you said, but I do respect the consistency of your views. And I do agree that cherry-picking parts of the Bible to suit ourselves is inconsistent. I just have a question, and I’m not asking it to pick an apologetic argument with you, I just would genuinely like to know how you, as a former devout Christian, justify your statement “you determined your morals”. Do you believe each human being subjectively determines their own morals? And if so, how have we each arrived at the notion that, say, murder is morally wrong? I hope you don’t mind my comment/question. Thanks!

    • braytonl says:

      I am gonna go ahead and answer this one. I had a nice long explanation written, but I think I can sum it up much easier with a quote. “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong, you lack empathy, not religion.” Think about it.

      • I agree that you don’t need religion to have morals or empathy. But to me that doesn’t coherently explain the existence nor the origin of morals. The fact that we, as human beings, have the ability to decide right from wrong, that we have a conscience and are moral beings actually points me to look for a first cause – that of an original moral Being.

      • in reply to grace:

        i can’t say i know the answer to this, either, but if we obtained our morality from a deity, it’s not the sadistic, racist, misogynistic one in the bible.

    • of course i don’t mind you asking. always ask the questions you have.

      what is at the heart of what you are asking here?

    • oh! i can answer that question. i wrote about my deconversion process a few months ago: https://fieryskulldiaries.com/2012/12/13/how-i-became-atheist/

  2. Memes like this one take advantage of the game instituted by religion. I don’t think that anyone would say that the Nazi party is okay, or at least the good parts. No, they reject the whole thing. This meme does just that by cherry picking from the book to show that all of it should be rejected. When you ‘rant’? about people using their own morals when they cherry pick you have nailed the problem exactly (or close enough). The book is not a book of objective anything and almost nobody uses it that way. The few that do are thought as cranks and dangerous. Everybody else can do without it because they get their morals from elsewhere already. Anything that serves as justification for bigotry just needs to go away.

  3. Peet says:

    But there are so many drones walking among us, don’t you think??:) I agree with you wholeheartedly, you don’t need a book to be a bigot or to be a decent human being, period. And that’s JUST a book some dudes wrote a lot of years ago. There were also other books written, people… But I hate the concept of “holy war” and all other things being sacred and ok just as long as they’re in the name of religion – bullshit wrapped up in prayer is still bullshit.

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