Hate Speech

“I know what love is, and that’s why I can’t be a Christian. Love’s not self denial. Love’s not blood & suffering. Love’s not murdering your son to appease your own vanity. Love’s not a wrath consigning billions to eternal torture because they offended your ego or broke your rules. Love’s not obedience or submission. True love is respect, compassion & kindness, freely given by a healthy, unafraid human being. D.Barker”

Does this sound like “hate speech”?  It’s a quote from Dan Barker, a pastor who became an atheist.  I posted this quote on my Facebook wall.   It had appeared on my newsfeed, posted by my friend, Greg.  I did comment to him that I was feeling irksome, as I hadn’t had enough coffee that morning, so I guess I when I reposted it, I knew the message would be met with some controversy.  But I was unprepared for the response. 

It wasn’t the comments that followed that upset me.  Sure, there were 100 over two threads, but that’s not that unusual for me.  I have a core of friends who like to talk.  This post initiated a fury of private messages, so divergent and of equal passion that even now, 21 days later, I am still reeling.

One message thanked me for my boldness.  This writer as found himself in the complicated position of internal struggle, plagued by sentiments mirrored by my post.  He said my post “stopped him in his tracks.”

One was from a person from my hometown that I barely even know.  He said he loved hanging out on my Facebook, and even though he thinks exactly the opposite of me, he enjoys the debate. 

Another response was face to face.  It came from my dearest friend.  It was so poignant and so personal that I am going to keep it private.

Three were, “Hey, isn’t great we can all think differently and still get along?” 

The last prompted me to write this.  I am going to recopy it here:

“Denise,
First, I want you to know that I was so happy to find you on facebook a few months ago. I always regretted falling out of touch with you.

It isn’t really about the tea-party, it is more about the anti-religion rant. In my opinion,  what you say is borderline hate speech. Do you limit your disdain to only Christian religious groups? Or does it extend to all who believe in God? What you said last week was truly offensive to me (and I don’t even consider myself to be particularly religious). I am pretty sure I and other Christians know what love is!
It isn’t about not handling differing opinions, I have many friends (and a husband) with whom I disagree with just about everything. It is about the complete lack of respect for people who think differently than you. And I just prefer not to deal with that on my facebook page. I am sorry it didn’t work out.”

 

And with that, she unfriended me. 

I am trying to understand what is so shocking about this quote.  I am trying to understand how posting it means I have “complete lack of respect for people who think differently.”  I am trying to understand how it could cause such extreme reactions.  I am trying to understand why questioning Christianity is so taboo that even someone who doesn’t consider herself particularly religious could react like this.

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About Brick Window

A mother and an atheist--Just trying to do the best I can in a suburb full of believers.
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13 Responses to Hate Speech

  1. prosey says:

    Denise, meet Jay: http://freethinkingfordummies.com/ — I think you & he will find a LOT of common ground on this topic.

    xoxo
    Prosey (another Denise *grin*)

    • Brick Window says:

      Oh crap–I forgot I was trying to be anonymous!! LOL
      Just doesn’t come naturally, I guess! I noticed that was your name, but I purposely didn’t say anything.

      Oh well, as long as I keep this blog off Facebook, I should be fine. 🙂

      Now I am off to read about Jay…

      • prosey says:

        Oh, I’m sorry…didn’t know. I can let Jay know, too…he & I both understand the importance of anonymity online. I will purposefully mute your name in conversations, if you’d prefer…particularly since I enjoy your blog. 🙂

    • Brick Window says:

      It’s okay…the web is a big place. I’m not worried. I just want to be able to write about my kids unencumbered and truthfully.

      If I have fall out, I will deal. But thanks for understanding.

      • Brick Window says:

        oh and thanks for the compliment! 🙂

      • prosey says:

        *nod* Like you, I write about my kids…sometimes even use their names instead of their usernames (but only in places where the people 99% of the people know me personally). In my public blog, I don’t generally give up their names…though I’ll share some of their goofiness…lol.

        …and you’re welcome. 😀

  2. fribnit says:

    as one anonymous atheist to another, I loved your posting and with your kind permission I would like to write about and link it on my humble silly little blog.

    I suppose it elicited such a strong reaction from that person because it spoke to his/her own insecurities and uncertainties about the god they have been taught to worship blindly since infancy.

    Being a Jewish Atheist (no, that is not contradictory) I think I come across to some as particularly antagonistic towards Christians, having never been one I can not for the life of me understand the attraction.

    Now to read some more of your writings.

    • Brick Window says:

      Thank you, fribnit. After having a blog for four years in my profession, under my real name and with my own domain, I just felt so compelled to write about my personal life. I have so much frustration trying to raise my daughters around so much religion and I need an outlet.

      Started this blog one week ago and I already feel so much better and so much less alone. Even if the people I interact with are anonymous, it still feels more real to me. I feel like I don’t have to watch what I say, and it’s a relief.

  3. Jay says:

    First off, hello! I’m so glad Denise introduced me to you blog. I will try to read through all of it as soon as I can. 🙂

    As for what you say here, I’ve lost a friend because of my blogging as well, although http://freethinkingfordummies.com/2011/01/29/sex-acts-shouldnt-be-a-moral-issue/ was controversial. This, how ever, is baffling. I can see nothing whatsoever hateful in Dan’s quote. I’ve met Dan and heard him speak. He is one of the most thoughtful, kindest people I’ve met. All Dan is talking about here is love and how love is not selfish or conditional.

    Most of us in our own relationships would hate to have the love of another given only under certain conditions. “I’ll love you if you do this for me”, “If you don’t do this, I won’t love you”. If none of us would be happy with love such as this, why should be be happy with the same conditional love from a deity that is supposed to BE love? Saying that god loves all of us, but only if we follow his rules is the same as a parent who tells a child that they won’t love them if they don’t eat the veggies.

    I have written quite a bit on my blog about cognitive dissonance and how that causes people to cling to beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence that those beliefs are wrong. This is a big part of the problem with believers.

    That said, I still can’t understand why your friend would find Dan’s words offensive. That person sounds like the type who takes PC to the extreme. It is sad and I’m sorry that you lost a friend.

    • Brick Window says:

      I am glad you see it like I do, Jay. It makes me feel better to see that others are as baffled by this as I am. I have spent a lot of mental energy trying to understand why she would find this quote so damning-no pun intended. Perhaps I am so used to thinking about the hypocrisy of The Love Of God that I forget to people first encountering our mindset, it is disruptive to the cognitive dissonance you mention.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I really appreciate learning about and from others who read and write on topics I am stuck on right now.

  4. Pingback: The Hubris of the Religious « Freethinking for Dummies

  5. Pingback: A Tale of Personal Evolution « Fribnits' World

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