Today’s Christians receive unreasonable criticism

Graphic by Fani Hsieh
Graphic by Fani Hsieh

Vegetarianism is for evil people – or at least stupid ones. It’s a violent ideology that perpetuates hatred and intolerance across the globe. Vegetarianism is for the immoral and the uneducated.

Really, it’s not vegetarians’ fault. They’ve just been indoctrinated by insidious agents—the school system, the media, the usual boogeymen.

Regardless, these sad, deluded, ignorant nut-jobs need to be put in their place. Off in a padded room, ideally.

Everything I’ve said so far, of course, is absurd.

So why is it acceptable to say the same things about conservative Christians?

If you don’t believe me, just look at the statistics.

According to a study conducted earlier this year by the evangelical polling firm Barna Group, most atheists view religious people, Christians in particular, as extremist. A 2007 Barna poll suggested more of the same: Christians are increasingly seen as fanatical, violent, homophobic, irrational and hypocritical.

These stats shouldn’t surprise anyone. They’re borne out of everyday experience, especially on university campuses.

In the first few weeks of school, I’ve already heard God referred to as an imaginary friend, the crusades as a barbaric genocide and the papacy as a corrupt invention.

The rejection of Christian doctrine is sexy at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying Christians need safe spaces or trigger warnings to protect their feelings.

That being said, the progressive attitudes that are so popular among university students claim that respect and inclusivity are great ideals—just not when dealing with conservative Christians, apparently.

To illustrate this hypocrisy, I could analyze any number of slanders levied against Christianity.

Perhaps the most enduring progressive myth directed against Christians is that they are irrational.

Dismissing out of hand the monumental genius of figures such as St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Paul II and Blessed John Henry Newman, anti-theists from Freud to Feuerbach have argued against the rationality of religion.

God, they say, is merely an idealized projection of the ego, an opiate-dispensing sky-fairy designed to placate our fears and validate our ignorance.

Like all myths, these accusations are grounded in a kernel of truth.

The authors of a 2013 social study observed an inverse relationship between religiosity and intelligence, but the vast majority of people don’t seriously believe certain races are inherently ‘smarter’ than others. Obviously, that would be dangerously naïve. Why, then, do certain groups perform worse on traditional indicators of intelligence?

The answer lies in stereotyping and bias. A 2015 study published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science Journal demonstrated that negative stereotypes associated with religion resulted in sub-par Christian enrollment and marks in the sciences. The authors then concluded that differences between the performance of Christian and non-Christian students disappeared.

Claude Steele, the social psychologist, has described this phenomenon as ‘stereotype threat.’ In his own work, Steele argues that stereotype threat explains the scarcity of women in mathematics and the underperformance of minority students in general.

Meaningful dialogue is the hallmark of a quality education, but opinions need to be supported by reason. For example, some people may challenge the assertion that discrimination based on religion is objectively wrong. That’s fine, but show me why.

Some people may question the methodologies of the various studies mentioned above or criticize my interpretations of those studies. That’s fine, but show me where I went wrong.

Some people may think orthodox Christianity discourages intelligent thought, while others may argue that I wrongly conflated progressivism with secularism or Christianity with conservatism. That’s fine, but show me why that’s the case.

There are lots of nasty people in the world who simply hate religion. That’s ok. Fanatics exist in every generation.

What really defies reason is the hypocrisy of aggressive secularism and the condescending progressive anti-theists who seem to think that their crap doesn’t stink. And boy have they been dumping on Christians.

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