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.