“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:
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.