Since middle school or high school or so, I’ve had rather a negative, knee-jerk reaction to words like “Christian,” “Catholic,” and “religious.” It always brought to mind the super-conservative, “you’re going to hell” sort of fundamentalism. I know that not all Christian, Catholic, and/or religious people are like that — I have many religious family members and friends who aren’t like that — but it’s still what first came to mind. That began to change for me when I learned about Unitarian Universalism during the end of my junior year at Bryn Mawr. Jeff Houghton’s list reminds me that “Christian” does not actually mean “conservative fundamentalism” (or “Christian fundamentalist”), even for people I don’t personally know.
There were a number of things I really liked about his list:
1. He acknowledges, first off, that many horrible things have been done by Christian institutions and in the name of Christ.
2. He states that science and religion are not incongruent (and, furthermore, that Christians have been wrong about science numerous times).
3. “Using the Bible to prove points to people who don’t believe in the Bible doesn’t make any sense intellectually.”
4. He mentions that much of the backlash against Christianity is “about the fact that Christianity became The Man” due to “being integrated into society and power,” which I think is an interesting point. How did it go from “give all you have to the poor” and the golden rule to, well, what it is now? There’s more emphasis now on banning contraception and barring non-hetero marriages than there is on caring for those who are experiencing poverty.
5. He understands that the “belief that God had a son who came to Earth and died for the sins of the world” sounds ridiculous (actually, he uses ableist language that I’m trying to avoid, but he realizes that it doesn’t make sense). It may seem sensible because we’re used to it, but if you take a step back, it sounds a bit absurd. I mean, really, if someone today were proclaiming that he were the son of God and sent to save the world from our sins, what would you think?
6. “Using religion to divide is egregious.”
7. “I can completely understand and respect people who come to an atheist position, we shouldn’t make you feel bad for it.”
8. “Jesus talked about caring for the poor a lot, and we talk about it very little.”