This post is tough for me to focus on what exactly I want to say and to actually convey that thought properly. I have tried to write it a few times and I scrap it. So, here is another try.
I am not referring to the obviously bad things from the past (or present) like Holy wars or Pedophilia. Even most religious people can spot things like that as bad. I am not referring to people who knowingly did evil and used the church to hide behind.
I will use Christianity throughout the rest of this post because it is what I am most familiar with and where I have first hand experience.
Most Christians would say sex with children is bad. They then defend their faith by separating it from the “sin”. They condemn any clergy that participates in such activities, but they make the issue about the person and their sin. They claim it is because the perpetrator did not let god work through their life to rid them of their sin that it occurred.
In the case of holy wars and historical monstrosities they claim that the church was different then. It was led by the wrong people. God was against those things, Today’s church is different and their own version of religion is different than the bad versions of the past.
There are many excuses for the sins of the religious, but it seems to me that the thinking and leadership that allowed those evils in the past allow other evils today. I imagine that 50 years or 100 years from now christians will say the religious people of today were not in god’s will like they are. That the church people of the early 2000’s were a heathenistic group that were not following god.
The church has always been a place where someone could righteously hate. I think people regularly use the church and scripture to justify their hate and then convince themselves that it is god’s will and they are doing what is righteous.
The Bible takes both sides of many issues and it makes it easy to pick and choose verses to support any notion one might want to latch on to. It seems easy to discount someone else’s crazy belief while holding on to an equally crazy belief. People naturally look for support for their own beliefs while finding faults in beliefs they don’t hold.
Homosexuality is a good example of what I am talking about. I know several homosexual christians who feel like scripture does not condemn homosexuality. I know far more christians who do feel the Bible absolutely forbids it. Most of them are heterosexual. Some even believe it is completely fine to discriminate against, hurt, or in some cases kill homosexuals. They believe that is god’s will.
Believers who hate homosexuality do so and are fine with doing so because of their faith in god. “See it isn’t me it is god’s rules,” they proclaim. I have never met someone like that who really loved homosexuals and following god made them really conflicted on the issue. I haven’t met anyone who wanted to accept gays but felt god wouldn’t let them. (I am not saying that doesn’t exist, but it sure would seem to be rare if it does.)
I know some believers that associate and accept homosexuals because they got to know one or even a few. They found them to be genuinely good people. They often still hate gays but make exceptions for their friends. They even feel like their friends are different. They see homos as terrible, evil people who only want to rebel against god and are most likely child molesters also, BUT their friend(s) is/are just struggling with sin. God loves them and they love god. They are really heterosexual and will act like it again soon.
I believe if you hate or discriminate, the church has a nice protective place for you. Hate gay people because homosexuality makes you uncomfortable? There is a church that will back you up on that in almost any town.
Hate minorities? Church is for you. They might not outwardly profess it most places, but you can find a comfortable place in a church close by. You can find a place where they condemn the activities and cultural practices of any race you choose. If you don’t want to be around black people it is easy to find a church who says wearing your pants low in the back is a black thing, it is indecent, god hates it. I have heard from the pulpit that Noah’s son Ham, was sent to Africa as a curse and his skin turned black. All blacks are from Africa. They are all cursed. People pay for the sins of their fathers. They will never be equal to white people.
Many churches still teach that being unequally yoked refers to marrying outside your race. God hates that.
If someone is uncomfortable with something or scared of something that is different than them they can find a way to believe god hates it. So, it is fine to hate it and anyone associated with it. Republicans hate Democrats because they have liberal, low moral values and god hates that. Democrats hate republicans because god said “love one another” and the Republicans don’t because they are selfish, and god hates that.
Some people are nice and some are not. There have always been hateful people and probably always will be. The church has always found a place for them.
But you know what? As an atheist it is easy to see all people are the same. I find things I like in most people. I also find things I don’t like in most people. I don’t hate anyone. I don’t have an issue anyone’s race, sexuality, personal activities, or anything else that doesn’t harm others even if I don’t care for it personally.
As a matter of fact, the thing I find I dislike more and more is hate. I seem to find more hate tied to a religious belief and therefore justified because it displeases god.
That is not to say there aren’t atheist and non-believers who don’t hate. There are and I don’t like that either. Now often time unbelievers just dislike religion and what it does. The religious folks take it as hate for god and hate for them. The religious mindset is us verses them. They can easily say “I hate the sin but not the sinner”, but won’t acknowledge someone hating the religion and not the religious person. Somehow, that is impossible.
I could go on and on with examples from the recent past like, dress code, alcohol, smoking, etc. I won’t.
Some people won’t ever leave the church because they would have to give up their hate. There isn’t a way to justify it so easily without god on your side.