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The Difference Between Criticism and Persecution

January 14, 2009

I know I’m not the first person to comment on this, but I feel the need to do so anyway because it annoys the nonexistent Hell out of me. There is an immeasurably large difference between criticizing someone and persecuting them. Criticism is disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings. Persecution is the active, systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group or individual.

Most non-Christians I’ve spoken with about it all seem to agree that Christians seem to have a persecution complex. I heard about it all the time when I was being forced to go to church. That’s right, I was being force to go to church and they were complaining about being persecuted and oppressed. Claims of persecution are part of the normal spiel that you hear at the average church. The Bible states that you WILL be persecuted (Matthew 24). So anytime they don’t get what they want they’re being persecuted. Can’t harass gays at school or the mall? “You’re persecuting me!” Don’t want God on the dollar? “You’re persecuting me!” Discussing the contradictory parts of the Bible? “You’re persecuting me!” I think you get the point.

When I explain the contradictions in the Bible or the ridiculousness of buffet-style Christianity I am not persecuting you; I am criticizing. You are not being persecuted. You have every right to go to church on Sundays, wear that little cross necklace you love so much, and can even bring a Bible to work or school. It’s when you take that Bible and start swinging it around like a battle axe at every non-Christian you see that the persecution starts, and it’s not on your end. Your rights end where mine begin. When you rally the town to shun the family who sues to keep the Nativity scene off of government property  that’s persecution.

When you comment on my blog about your beliefs and I poke holes in them that is criticism. It’s ok; you’ll survive the mean old atheist’s criticism to pray another day. You can claim persecution when the President says Christians aren’t really citizens or when someone vandalizes your car and sends death threats because they found out you’re a Christian. Criticism is healthy, it helps you flesh out the bad ideas and keep the good ones. If your faith can’t handle criticism then maybe you should stop and think about that for a minute.

You who believe in Yahweh in this country are in the majority. You outnumber us six to one; there aren’t enough of us in one area to affect the political climate. So, you basically control the government; you can vote in whoever you like. With that political power also come the responsibilities of that position. When you are elected to a government position, you represent everyone in your area of influence, not just the Christians. When you are acting as though your district only has “God-fearing” Christians in it you really are persecuting people. Some of you really need to get a grip on reality and understand your actions have consequences.

What do you have to say about this? I am being too hard on them because they’ve been indoctrinated to believe they will be persecuted? Am I being too soft? Does anyone here think I’ve persecuted them?
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19 Comments
  1. January 14, 2009 2:51 pm

    I think that this claim of being persecuted is used as a weapon. The direct aim of this is to give the impression of all criticism of religions being felt as persecution by the religious crowd. As we are compassionate animals, there is a quite distinct possibility of critiques toning it down on fear of so offending people. This has worked before and they are at it still even if it not anymore working as good as did before.
    btw. I have brand new (written an hour ago) stuff myself in http://atheistnews.blogs.fi and at http://beinghuman.blogs.fi

  2. January 14, 2009 2:53 pm

    You’re right, Sisyphus. They do have a persecution complex and as you point out, it began in the cult’s earliest days. Even when Christianity was busy killing thousands of people as it wiped out every alternative to itself, Christianity claimed it was being persecuted. It’s part of their mindset. If you disagree with them, they say they’re being persecuted. And as you say, criticism and persecution are not the same thing.

    I’ve posted about this many times and occasionally have a Christian drop by to tell me I’m going to hell, etc. That is not apparently persecution because a Christian has every right to denounce sin but none of the rest of us have a right to denounce intolerance. It’s a crazy, upside-down world they live in and let’s face it, you can’t win an argument with them because for a group that claims opposition to relativism, they’re more than willing to chameleon-like, grasp any argument that suits them.

  3. January 14, 2009 2:54 pm

    This is the new persection: by making me live in the same country as people who don’t believe exactly as I do, and aren’t pretending to, you are persecuting me.

    I pretend to be a christian at work, because I will be fired if I am outed as an atheist.

    But that’s not persecution.

  4. January 14, 2009 2:56 pm

    Wow! The car vandalism and death threat experience must be pretty common for atheists. I was like, gee, how’d they know that happened to me?

    I absolutely agree that there’s a huge difference between persecution and criticism.

    I’ve also personally experienced this cry of “You’re persecuting me!” from Christians in response to articles I’ve written. Seriously, I want to tell them to go explain their situation to a Jew and see what kind of sympathy it earns them. Yeah, reading an article of your own free will is EXACTLY like religious persecution.

  5. January 14, 2009 2:58 pm

    Person Failure said – “I pretend to be a christian at work, because I will be fired if I am outed as an atheist.”

    I have been in exactly that situation before and more than once.

  6. January 14, 2009 3:15 pm

    It reminds me of those Christians who reply to church/state separation lawsuits by claiming that we are trying to take their right away in this country to be a Christian! This whole complex is absurd.

  7. January 14, 2009 3:34 pm

    kylyssa: at least i haven’t had a death threat! good thing i can quote the bible at will.

  8. January 14, 2009 3:37 pm

    @Jaaakko

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, it really can be used as a weapon.

    @PF

    “I pretend to be a christian at work, because I will be fired if I am outed as an atheist.”

    I’m really sorry to hear that you’re in that kind of situation. I hope you find a way to eventually find somewhere to work where you can be yourself. If you don’t mind me asking, are you working at a church, Christian school, or something like that?

    @Kylyssa

    From my understanding once a small minded area finds out about the local atheist it’s all downhill from there. My g/f won’t let me put a Darwin fish on my car for fear of retribution. Damn womenfolk always tell me what to do.

    @James

    I heard that all to often in my hometown. They all think they have the right to push every other faith (or lack thereof) around and when they find out they can’t they cry about it and get even more violent.

  9. Mythos permalink
    January 14, 2009 11:23 pm

    Everyone is persecuted for one reason or another, regardless of their particular faith.

    However my friend, I think you made a very true and very powerful statement when you said, “if your faith can’t handle criticism then maybe you should stop and think about that for a minute.”

    After all, if your faith is in the word of God, and that faith is shaken and/or somehow compromised by the words of man, then I don’t think you really had much faith in God’s word to begin with, so if that happens to be the case, you really weren’t a Christian anyway.

    Great post Sisyphus.

    ~ Mythos
    http://mindofmythos.wordpress.com

  10. January 15, 2009 9:23 am

    I call it “The Great Christian Persecution Myth”.

    I always point out to them that until they are afraid in a public setting to say they dropped their child off at youth group last Wednesday, or they saw somebody at church on Sunday, that they are NOT persecuted.

    I even have applicants put their religious affiliations on their job applications, as if that somehow qualifies them for the job more than someone else. Luckily for them, I ignore the religious material on their apps, and focus on the qualities they possess that may qualify them for the position. Can you imagine how I would be treated if I included my atheist work and volunteering on a job application?

  11. January 15, 2009 9:41 am

    I work at a law firm, but one of the partners and several of the secretaries are evangelicals. eventually, they will suss out that while i claim to be catholic (which is evil, but not fireable evil), I am actually an atheist. It’s happened before.

    I would love a darwin fish for my car, but I don’t dare.

    I spend every day suppressing the urge to scream, “I don’t believe in your sky-daddy and I never will!” to the world at large.

  12. Mythos permalink
    January 16, 2009 4:50 am

    Personal Failure stated, “eventually, they will suss out that while i claim to be catholic (which is evil, but not fireable evil), I am actually an atheist.”

    To me, anyone that would “suss you out”, as you put it, is about as far away from being a Christian as you can get.

    Faith is a personal thing and cannot, and should not, be forced upon anyone. By any group. No matter what.

    Besides, religion aside, if they aren’t judging you by your work, and instead are/will judge you according to your atheist’s beliefs, then may I suggest moving to a different law firm where they will judge you based solely on your merit and professionalism instead of your religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

    One more thing, I say put the darwin fish on the car anyway if that is what you believe in. It’s your right to do so. Take care.

    ~ Mythos
    http://mindofmythos.wordpress.com/

  13. January 17, 2009 5:44 am

    This is a particular instance of how people who don’t actually think about what they hold is true respond to “threats” to their worldview. When you don’t obtain your knowledge through observation, you have no basis to be certain of it. You were told that this or that is true and you follow it to the letter.

    People with dogmatic belief see criticism as a fatal affront precisely because they’re completely helpless when protecting their ideas. It really, really, hurts them – for all the wrong reasons. So there’s no wonder they feel “persecuted” – you’re hurting their feelings like hell!

    In that case, though, I think it’s perfectly fine to hurt their feelings if their feelings motivate them to walk all over other people’s wellbeing.

    PS
    That George Bush quote is appalling. What a disgusting, redundant bigot.

  14. novparl permalink
    January 18, 2009 11:38 am

    You say that Christians control the Gumn. Yet Mr McCain clearly failed to say very much about religion and only lost 53-47. Considering how the GOP have f****ed the country and many others, that was amazing. (I was expecting about 78-22 – do some people actually enjoy losing their jobs & being evicted?)

  15. nancyallen permalink
    January 25, 2009 3:28 am

    Shame the inability to handle criticism is a two way street, as atheists have shown they can dish it out butt can’t take it. Given they are the ones making all the noise about this could it be they might have something to hide?

  16. January 26, 2009 7:23 am

    Nancy, I suppose you think the blacks and women should have just kept quiet in the 60’s, right? Or that those damn homosexuals should have just kept quiet and let those redneck dogs torture and murder them?

    It’s a shame you didn’t have anything intelligent to add and can’t see how silly you’re being because of your own misconceptions. When you and your kind are tired of sitting at the kiddie table start thinking about why you’re there in the first place and maybe we’ll have a place for you then.

  17. Tey permalink
    January 29, 2009 7:57 pm

    hi. can i get your full details..
    thanks.
    email me back ok..
    I wait..

  18. Tey permalink
    January 29, 2009 7:59 pm

    i mean full details about yourself..
    thanks.. hope to hear you soon..
    just email me, so that i could also send my details to you.
    Thanks again.

  19. January 29, 2009 8:01 pm

    My email is on my contact page.

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