There are good Christians. Many good Christians. So I don’t want you to think I don’t recognize them. But even among this crowd they will often excuse the extremist Christians simply because they claim Christianity.
I remember once listening to the radio on one of my road trips and a couple Christians called in or something. The one guy was fairly intelligent and well received. The other guy was a raving lunatic that basically told everyone and their mother they were going to hell. So what did the intelligent collected guy say in that Kentucky accent “my fellow brother here is just very passionate about the love of Christ.” To be fair I was in southern Ohio at the time, but the caller was not.
This is something I encounter a lot. Christians who will come to the defense of clearly crazy fundamentalists simply because they too call themselves Christians. There is more tribalism than logic being involved. A lot of times it’s hard for me to believe these people practice the same religion. Aside from names and some stories, I really don’t think they do. Yet through name alone they must feel some level of kinship as they will defend them, even if the liberal Christian typically has more in common with an atheist than a fundamentalist.
I don’t buy this and I think it harms the message of Christianity as a whole when liberal Christians allow this to not just pass, but actually defend it.
It’s sort of like when you’re trying to have an intelligent conversation about extraterrestrials and the possiblity of whether there are any out there, then suddenly uncle Ned chimes in about how his friends cat was raped by “one of dem little green men in their u-fo.” Now the conversation has taken a turn for the ridiculous. Would an intelligent extraterrrestrial believer suddenly go “Oh my, that’s crazy, tell me more” and come to the defense of uncle Ned or would they pass off the story as clearly something from someone neither well informed or all that put together? Sadly it’s not just religion, I have in fact seen some of the intelligent extraterrestrial believers come to the defense of the tinfoil hat crowd.
The problem is, like the extraterrestrial community of believers who get labeled by their lowest common denominator, religious people suffer the same problem in the eyes of nonbelievers. Now I’m sure they probably say the same thing about nonbelievers and they would be right. We can’t let our lowest common demoninator hold any ground in serious conversations, even among nonbelievers.
All of this requires seeing past the label people put on themselves and looking at the ideas being presented specifically.
So where is that line between acceptability and unacceptability? I think part of the problem is that the line is different for everyone. For me personally, the Christians I respect are the liberal types who don’t take the bible literally word for word as if God had spoke it directly into existence. Instead they view it as a series of stories written by ancient men which was meant to convey a general idea. They aren’t the fire and brimstone fundamentalists. They leave Leviticus in the past along with some of the things Paul said. They often believe in evolution, equality for all people, they’re open about sex rather than acting like it is evil incarnate and use their religion more as a system of hope and as a moral guidestone for greater empathy toward others. If all Christians were like this, not only would I not debate them harshy, I would put them on a pedestal as a prime example of how a human being should behave.
But that line varies greatly and I’ve seen a lot of excuses being made by the better half for the worse half.