Recently on various internet sites I have noticed several articles written about Christians and Christianity, and how awful they and/or it is or are. Since I try to be a Christian, I have found these articles extraordinarily interesting in that they generally paint the entire spectrum of Christians and Christianity with a broad brush of whatever the particular point of view of the author of the article. The most interesting points are those that decry the foolishness of belief while the author generally does not realize that he or she is also a believer – generally in the opposite view than that of the religious believer, but a believer, nonetheless.
Perhaps my interest might be a bit more understandable with a few pieces of information about Christianity. These are not what Christianity teaches at all, but rather information on some externals. The following numbers are all approximate. There are 6.5 billion people on the face of the earth. Of that 6.5 billion, 2 billion profess to be Christian. Of that 2 billion, 1.3 billion are Catholic, 400,000 million are Orthodox, 400,000 million are Protestant, and of the latter, there are some 40,000 denominations all teaching and preaching slightly different aspects of the faith to be found in the Christian Bible. The Bible, however, has about 43,000 translations – some Bibles containing some books, prophecies, and letters while other translations do not, depending on who, what, where and when the translation occurred.
Now imagine how horrified the majority of the readers of progressive sites would be if someone wrote an article on how all people of color, all Jews, all Orientals, all Muslims, and all WASP Americans are the same. We would all probably glance at it, shrug and not even bother to read it carefully. If the article were virulent enough we might even respond with a well-thought out and balanced article of our own. (Of course, if we wrote it, it would be very thoughtful!)
But to some people it is apparently all right to broad brush approximately 2 billion people and claim that they are all somehow identical. I find this absolutely appalling, since I consider myself a rather progressive Catholic Christian who has absolutely nothing, theologically speaking, in common with a right-wing radical religious fundamentalist who believes the earth was created in 6 days, who also professes to be Christian. After the ghastly tsunami near Indonesia a couple of years ago I happened to be listening to a local radio talk show one evening on the way home. One man called in to say that all of the drowned were going to hell because they had not accepted Jesus as their Personal Savior. That has nothing to do with what I believe – in fact it could be said to be just the opposite – yet he claimed to be a Christian, just as I do. Obviously the point I am trying to make is that it is just as bigoted and prejudicial to broad brush all Christians, or all Catholics, or all Protestants, or all fundamentalist, for that matter (though I find it easier to preach than to practice in this instance), than it is to broad brush all of any other group as being all the same.
We can always find individuals in every religion who do and say horrible or stupid things. But the fault is in the individual, not particularly in what the religion actually teaches. I, for instance, have a great disagreement with some of the Catholic hierarchy on their stand on homosexuality. But I don't feel a need to blame the entire religion because of what I consider to be erroneous viewpoints on one subject by some members.
Some time back after a particularly annoying article on how all Christians believed something – an erroneous statement both in what we were supposed to believe and the fact that we all believed it – I responded with a comment and with the location on the Internet where the accurate information could be located. The author wrote back saying he had an open mind and would never read anything about religion, especially the Catholic religion, so my effort was futile. My thought at the time was that he had kept an open mind for so long that his brain had fallen out.