Growing up in England, I never met that many Christians. The UK, like most of Europe, isn’t a particularly religious country so, if I did know any Christians, they were lapsed or went to church only a couple of times a year. When my family moved to America when I was 20 though, everyone seemed to be Christian. A huge shock to me after growing up on schlocky American TV, American movies riddled with violence, and knowing about the drug culture in America – all values that seemed as far away from ‘Christian’ as I’d ever seen.
Then when I got to know some of the people who called themselves ‘Christians’, people who would nowadays be classified as right-wing Christians, almost everything about them was as ‘UnChristian’ as you can get. Full of hatred and bigotry not only for anyone else who wasn’t right-wing Christian but also for people at other Christian churches, some I met were thieves, others I met were liars, yet others were having affairs with people in our neighborhood. Even at only 20, I already knew this was definitely not ‘Christian’ behavior.
Yet, in more than 20 years living in America, my opinion of these so-called right-wing ‘Christians’ never got better, only worse. Until today, when I see how full of hatred and bigotry these people are now when it comes to Muslims and Islam, and if this is the version of Christianity America is propagating, I’m incredibly happy I’m an Atheist.
During my first few weeks in America, one of the girls in our neighborhood invited me to go for dinner with a group of her friends. All members of the Church of Christ, even though I’m not Christian, they were around my age, friendly and, as I didn’t know anyone my age, potential friends. The idea of being friends however went out the window when their idea of ‘dinner’ was going to a chili parlor, praying before dinner then, after dinner, driving to a local university, breaking into a storeroom and stealing paint. Like I said, I’m an Atheist, and the thought of stealing someone else’s property would never cross my mind. If this was the American right-wing ‘Christian’, no thanks.
Over the next few years, I lived in Dallas, Texas where I met some of the worst people I’ve ever met in my life. At one point, I was on the Board of Directors of a gay organization and had to live with eggs being thrown at my car, people breaking windows at our offices, and groups protesting outside with signs saying “All gays deserve to die of AIDS and go to hell”. All Christian, all of the time.
A few years ago, tired of the extreme right-wing Christianity in the United States, a version becoming more and more powerful and vocal, and a version I was finding to be ever more distasteful, bigoted, racist and simply full of hate, I moved from the US to Thailand, a Buddhist country full of the kindest people who would never, for one nanosecond, ever discriminate against anyone because of their religion. In the seven years I’ve been here, I find myself calmer, with much more peace and not full of stress from all of that hate.
My decision to get as far away from these so-called American right-wing Christians was proven correct a while ago when, after a hurricane, my mother and father who live in North Carolina and don’t go to church, arranged a clean-up of the entire neighborhood to get rid of the hurricane damage. Everyone in the neighborhood said they would attend, so my mother baked pies and made breakfast for over 100 people. The day before, one of their Christian neighbors came to ask my parents if they went to church. My mother said “No”, so she was invited to go to church with the neighbor. Still polite, as that’s what she’s like, my mother said “No, thank you. We’re not Christian, but thank you for thinking of us”, and that was that. Until, of course, the day of the clean-up.
My parents got up early, got everything ready for breakfast and waited. Nobody came. Eventually two people, who had just moved to the town and knew nobody, arrived as well as some firemen who were down from Ohio volunteering for the hurricane clean up. It was then my parents learned, their ‘Christian’ neighbors had all gotten together and decided they wouldn’t come to my parents’ organized clean up as my parents weren’t ‘Christian’. My mother was heart-broken.
If this is the so-called ‘Christian behavior” of so many vocal right-wing Christians. please KEEP IT. I was brought up as an Atheist but one who would never treat people the way these so-called Christians do. I wouldn’t lie, I wouldn’t steal, I wouldn’t spew hatred at another group because they don’t have the same beliefs as mine and, I sure as shit, would never deliberately hurt an elderly couple just to prove to them that ‘Christians’ didn’t think they were worth associating with.
Now, as America is flooded with Islamophobia, anti-Islam hatred, mosque burnings, mosque demonstrations, stabbings of people who are Muslim and a whole lot more, if it continues the way it’s going and America keeps being taken over with these right-wing Christians so full of hate, it will be a cold day in hell before I’ll ever set foot in America again. The land of the free seems to have become the land of the free to hate. This Atheist will stick with the Buddhists. Thank you.
*** And if you think I exaggerate, find any article on the internet about Muslims or the NYC Islamic Center, and see the literally thousands of comments left by people who classify themselves as ‘Christian’, with some of the vilest, foulest, most bigoted and racist language I’ve ever seen.It’s downright frightening.
Overview – The Religious Right in America – The Guardian UK