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The Children of the Smaller Gods

It’s never too soon to teach your children prejudice, intolerance and hatred. Just ask the good Christian folks at this Baptist church in the United States.

I seldom talk about my faith and have never written about it in my blog before but I’m going to write about it today.

I’m a Christian although not a very good one despite having contemplated becoming a priest at one time. My only hope is that God is quite patient and has a sense of humour. Otherwise, I’m pretty much screwed. Nonetheless, while a true and complete understanding of the nature and love of God passes far beyond my understanding, I have a considerable faith that God is more forgiving than we are and far less concerned with the trivial and petty things that seem to consume us.

It is inconceivable to me that God is overly concerned with things like sexual orientation, skin colour or whether or not your football team wins the big game. That would be a pretty small god and I believe God is infinite.

Christians, like those who stood and cheered this little boy in church for parroting what can only be termed hatred, like to quote Leviticus from the Old Testament. They ignore the simple but profound statement that God, through Christ, made a new covenant with humanity and it was to be based on love, tolerance and forgiveness.
I don’t speak for God but neither does anyone else. It is beyond hubris, even arrogance for anyone to presume they do but that hasn’t prevented people from perverting the basic tenets of their faith to support their intolerance, their prejudice and their hatred. Some have even used it to become quite wealthy.
The Klan did it to justify their hatred and killing of blacks. The IRA and its supporters did it to justify their hatred of British rule in Northern Ireland and the killings they carried out as a result. Protestant extremists were right in there with them, justifying their violence with scriptural quotes as if the only reason Christ walked on earth was to stir things up and induce more hatred and killing.
The Inquisition tortured and murdered to root out heretics who were nothing more than people with a different approach to their faith in God. Bloody Mary, Henry VIII’s daughter was responsible for the burning of hundreds of protestants and it was protestants who burned and murdered women they claimed were witches in places like Salem.
When it comes to our faith, most of us may not be very good at it but we try. Unfortunately, there are those among us who don’t try. They confuse their hatred for someone or something with the love of God and have become quite accomplished at twisting the teachings of their faith to support their personal prejudices and biases. No group exemplifies this better than the Westboro Baptist Church who celebrate the deaths of military personnel by protesting their funerals and promoting hatred against everyone and anyone that doesn’t fit their narrow, close-minded definition of Christianity.
This isn’t a uniquely Christian phenomenon.
Extremist Sikhs, an ultra conservative part of the Hindu religion were able to justify the blowing up of an Air India flight in the name of God and virtually every day, Sunnis and Shiite Muslims are at each other’s throats like junk yard dogs, all in the name of Allah. Many Muslim’s tolerate so-called Honour Killings, which are nothing more than the murder of women (primarily) who have violated a family’s paternalistic concept of honour.

Muslims kill Jews and Jews respond by killing Muslims, usually not the Muslims who initiated the original attack. They claim their faith condones an eye for an eye but usually that means, bringing the person who committed the offense to justice. In practice, it has become indiscriminate retaliation that too often kills the innocent.

There is nothing in either the holy books of the Hindu faith or the Quran about strapping some C4 to your chest and blowing up and indiscriminately killing men, women and children just because you don’t like them. No faith condones the murder of innocents to satisfy another’s personal sense of being offended or for revenge.
I can already hear the atheists marshalling their arguments against a belief in God as they preen their feathers in moral superiority. Stand down boys and girls, there is as much intolerance and prejudice on your side of the river that divides us as there is over here. But on this one small point, atheists and I agree.

Religion has been perverted by those who only think they believe and who cannot see beyond their personal prejudice. As a result, horrendous crimes have been committed in the name of religion but then, you don’t have to be one of the faithful to commit horrendous crimes. Atheists bring no moral superiority to the failings of humanity. There are many atheists who are as fallible, intolerant and prejudiced as the rest of us.

The world’s great religions do not preach the hatred, violence and intolerance that too many have and continue to practice today in the name of God. That has nothing to do with the teachings of religion and are the refuge of the weak-minded and frightened. 

It doesn’t matter what a person’s beliefs are about things like homosexuality, it isn’t for us to judge. It doesn’t matter what a person’s belief are about other religions, other races, other cultures and other political opinions might be. It isn’t for us to judge. It is one thing to hate the sin and another completely to hate the sinner.The bible, as are the scriptures of all faiths, is clear on that singular point.
We are not called on to engage in a holy war of hatred. Even the Quran’s call for a holy war has nothing to do with promoting hatred and killing indiscriminately. That is just one more human distortion of the teaching.

We are commanded to live according to the basic tenets of our individual faiths and if you’re a Christian that means, compassion, forgiveness and tolerance. There is nothing in the New Testament, which is the book of Christianity, that preaches hatred and there is only one instance in the entire book where Christ displayed true anger.

He threw the money changers out of the temple for turning the House Of God into a financial whorehouse. Imagine how he might feel to watch adults who have taught small children to hate others, cheer on those children in a church as they sing words  of hatred they don’t even understand. Christ said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” What he didn’t say was, “Teach your kids to hate others, especially homos!”
There are a lot of convenient interpretations of scripture, all scriptures in all faiths. While I’m not a biblical scholar, I know this much. If your interpretation allows you to judge others and condemn them or treat them with intolerance and hatred, you’re interpretation is wrong. While we all have our prejudices, it is how we act on them that is important. 

That’s what scripture is all about. It is meant to guide us through our own failings in order to get us to sit up straight and fly right. We do not honour ourselves or our faith, let alone God, by perverting those teachings to support those things in us that we are meant to struggle to correct.

Need more proof?
The intolerant among us are quick to quote Leviticus when it comes to justifying not only their prejudice of homosexuality but in support of any actions they may take against gays. They are equally slow to acknowledge the sixth commandment when it comes to supporting their belief in laws like the Stand Your Ground law in Florida or in some extreme cases, defending the rights of the unborn by murdering doctors. You cannot prevent a sin by committing sin and you can’t be righteous by being unrighteous.
At the end of the day, there are really only two commandments that define Christianity and when we live lives that are contrary to them, we have failed as Christians. Christ said, 
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord 
our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord 
thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, 
and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. 
This is the first and great commandment. And the 
second is like unto it: thou shalt love thy neighbour 
as thyself. On these two commandments hang all 
the law and the prophets.”

It couldn’t be more clear. All of the law, all of the tenets of our Christian faith hang on these two commandments. It isn’t possible to love God while hating others. It isn’t possible to be a good Christian by loving others but ignoring the word of God. 
That really is all there is to being a Christian. Love God, love your neighbour. Every action can be measured against those two commandments and if we do something that is contradictory to one or both of them, we have broken faith with our faith.
If a person can’t rise above their prejudice and hatred to live these two commandments to the best of their ability, or at least prepared to try, then it’s probably time to quit the charade and hand in their membership card ‘cause whatever they are……they ain’t Christian.
That won’t happen, of course. There is nothing more sanctimonious than someone who believes that the true light of Jesus burns within them and that this gives them the right to condemn and judge others as a result. These are the people who do not rise up and strive to be what God intended but rather reduce and trivialize God to a small and narrow-minded concept that is all too human rather than divine.
All of this makes me think sometimes that God must wish he had better fan clubs than the ones most of us have provided. Hopefully God’s patience won’t wear thin any time soon.


© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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  • Arpi Greco

    I don’t know how I missed this post the first time around. I suppose I was busy, away from the twitterverse writing report cards… I think this one is my favourite one so far. You nailed it, again and again, and then each and every one of your responses to comments, also caused a standing ovation! Bravo !

    Im not much of an institutionalized religious person
    myself, but Personally, I think you missed your calling 😉 If you ever decide to open a church and become a preacher, I would gladly attend to hear your sermons!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      While I appreciate the compliment, I’m pretty sure God is chuckling at the thought me being a preacher. Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I appreciate it.

  • John Raubenheimer

    Thanks for your valuable opinion. I was shocked and depressed by the two videos, the first showing kids parroting their parents hatred and being loudly applauded, the second showing hate being bawled out in the street, by Christians like myself. Gay people have no more choice about their genetic inheritance than do, say, left-handed people. At school I picked up a friend’s notebook – something I shouldn’t have done – and was appalled to read his fantasies, which were like my sex fantasies, except they were about boys not girls… I was shocked and disgusted… but now, after years of thinking and reading, and especially after having had gay friends whose lives with all their peaks and lows have danced alongside mine, my reaction seems pitiful. Now I wish I could have been a better friend. One friend stopped his friendship with me after telling me he was gay. It seems he wasn’t able to believe I could stay his friend now I knew the truth. That is bitter for me. I will think about all these haters and especially draw them into my prayers.

  • John Raubenheimer

    Thanks for your valuable opinion. I was shocked and depressed by the two videos, the first showing kids parroting their parents hatred and being loudly applauded, the second showing hate being bawled out in the street, by Christians like myself. Gay people have no more choice about their genetic inheritance than do, say, left-handed people. At school I picked up a friend’s notebook – something I shouldn’t have done – and was appalled to read his fantasies, which were like my sex fantasies, except they were about boys not girls… I was shocked and disgusted… but now, after years of thinking and reading, and especially after having had gay friends whose lives with all their peaks and lows have danced alongside mine, my reaction seems pitiful. Now I wish I could have been a better friend. One friend stopped his friendship with me after telling me he was gay. It seems he wasn’t able to believe I could stay his friend now I knew the truth. That is bitter for me. I will think about all these haters and especially draw them into my prayers.

  • John Raubenheimer

    Thanks for your valuable opinion. I was shocked and depressed by the two videos, the first showing kids parroting their parents hatred and being loudly applauded, the second showing hate being bawled out in the street, by Christians like myself. Gay people have no more choice about their genetic inheritance than do, say, left-handed people. At school I picked up a friend’s notebook – something I shouldn’t have done – and was appalled to read his fantasies, which were like my sex fantasies, except they were about boys not girls… I was shocked and disgusted… but now, after years of thinking and reading, and especially after having had gay friends whose lives with all their peaks and lows have danced alongside mine, my reaction seems pitiful. Now I wish I could have been a better friend. One friend stopped his friendship with me after telling me he was gay. It seems he wasn’t able to believe I could stay his friend now I knew the truth. That is bitter for me. I will think about all these haters and especially draw them into my prayers.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      I think you should probably cut yourself some slack. We all have prejudices, it’s what we do because of them that is important. It seems that you put more effort into overcoming your prejudices than into judging others and that is something many others don’t do.

      That was the whole point of this piece. None of us are perfect but we are only called on to try every day to be better people. I personally believe that God applauds the effort, not just the accomplishment.

      Thank you for reading this and for leaving a comment. I appreciate it.

    • John Raubenheimer

      Thanks, I think you hit the nail on the head when you quoted Christ’s first two commandments… I wasn’t always a Christian, but my athiest parents taught me the second one when I began life, calling it the Golden Rule, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      The thing about faith is that it comes with a set of moral teachings that are meant to guide us towards being decent and moral people. Whether a person believes in God or not is a very personal journey and I believe that a person can be a decent human being even if they don’t believe in God.

      The story of the Good Samaritan comes to mind. I also believe, as you read, that it is possible to believe in God but to so distort the Word, that there isn’t very much that is decent in you at all.

      Christ said once that what we do to others so to do we do it to him. That seems pretty straight forward to me and is just one more way of stating the Golden Rule.

      Of course, I know he allows exceptions to that rule for the jerk that cuts you off in traffic or the woman who is ahead of you at the checkout with…….coupons. :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14945577332806732720 Roy

    Your assumption that Jews always attack first is far off base. In Israel, Arab Muslims are Judges, lawyers, Mayors, Council members, & Govt officials. Name one Muslim country that allows Jews or Christians to participate in their govt. You can’t. Just as you can’t name one instance where Israel has rocketed Palestinians first except when surveilance has shown them setting their rockets up. Jews are willing to live along side Muslims but Muslims only want to kill Jews & destroy Israel. They (Palestinian Muslims) don’t want peace. Israel has NEVER attacked Iran but Iran’s Number 1 goal is to destroy Israel & wipe it off the face of the Earth. Apparently YOUR hate is misguided also.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      First of all, I wrote three sentences about Jews in a very long essay that is mostly a criticism of my own religion.

      I appreciate that you have difficulty getting past your own narrow-minded bigotry and insecurities in order to actually understand what I wrote but you can climb down off your high horse. Instead of doing a knee-jerk emotional reaction that is wrong on the facts, go back and read what I wrote. I did not say that Jews attack first. I wrote “Muslims kill Jews and Jews respond by killing Muslims, usually not the Muslims who initiated the original attack.” Jews, like virtually every other religion throughout history, have responded to these attacks with indiscriminate retaliation. It is not about justice, it is about revenge and in the end it is the innocent on all sides who are killed and pay for the sins of others.

      If speaking up for the innocent is hatred, then call me a hate monger but before you do, next time, take the time to read and to at least try to understand what is written before you simply retaliate and lecture others about hatred.

      Your ill-informed reaction is precisely the intolerance that I’ve written about in this post and you’ve made it abundantly clear that you don’t really know what hatred is.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06223729391428982448 Ted Betts

    I’m not a Christian, but I do read the Bible on occasion. Some good stuff in there.

    What often perplexes me is how so much energy, emotion and time and rage is spent on a few very vague and indirect and short and even quite cryptic passages here and there from lesser passages of the Bible, while the very clear, very direct, and elongated passages that directly contradict those passages quoted right from Jesus himself are said not to apply or overrule or modify the hatred. Not just with homosexuality (the passages for which have been misinterpreted and deliverately mis-translated to the point of unreliability) either, but money, war, crime, caring for the unfortunate, etc.

    You put up the two simple rules of being a Christian. Don’t forget, for those who need a little more analysis, the Sermon on the Mount, which is a pretty good base for anyone’s way of life, believer or non.

    From Matthew 5:
    38 “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

    43 “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
    44But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

    And of course, so very germaine to your wonderful blog post, from Matthew 6:

    1″Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
    4Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      Thank you for your well-informed comment. The only prayer that was handed down from Christ is the Lord’s Prayer and it is said in Christian churches around the world pretty much by rote. What many miss is something you talk about in your last paragraph.

      “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

      What many miss is that this implores God to forgive us for our sins in the same way that we have forgiven others. In other words, if we are forgiving, forgive us in the same way…but…and there is always a but. If we are not forgiving, then do not forgive us in that same way.

      God gets blamed for many things on this earth but invariably, the things for which God is blamed are the misinterpretations and deliberate ignoring of the message God gave us. We have been shown a way to live that leads to happiness, to peace and to our individual and collective well-being. Too many of us have ignored or distorted that message for a very long time.

  • Nevine

    Ah the things that have been done (and will be done) inthe name of religion. It is used as a tool of power over the vulnerable who are taken in believing they are on the road to goodness!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      Religion is not from God. It is man-made, therefore, quite fallible, especially when personal bias, self-interest and a thirst for power over others gets in the way of the true message. That was the point of this post.

      The original message is actually quite simple. It’s just difficult to live up to.

  • Anonymous

    John 12:47-48 [Jesus talking] “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.”

    If Jesus came to save and not judge, I certainly don’t feel qualified to appoint myself judge. Better to let it rest in the hands of God.

    – solemnwatch

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      Amen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00068077596719584731 dmorris

    Excellent post,Mr.Bear. I was born and raised a Christian, but gave up on religion a long time ago,not because of any cataclysmic event,just a calm and rational belief that it just doesn’t make sense,to me.

    For those it does,morepower to you. But,I have seen far too many hypocrites who hold their religion in front of them like a shield,crying,”don’t criticize me,I am a Christian”,while they perform most decidedly un-Christian acts.

    I was raised to recognise good sense when I see it,and the Ten Commandments are good rules to live by.

    I do always stick to one rule I was taught in Sunday school,and I wish everyone else would remember this one: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

    It would make the world a better place.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      I tend to agree with you. The word and teachings of God were given to us as a gift. They are divinely inspired and are not a formal religion. They are a way of living one’s life as God intended. Religion is man-made and therefore quite fallible.

      You quoted the golden rule and I believe it is a rule by which everyone, people of faith and non-believers would benefit if we all tried to live it every day. For me, however, everything is summarized by the simple but profound commandments of Christ. Love God. Love your neighbour.If each of us did that, it would be pretty difficult to justify wars and all the other things that threaten us every day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16277713882450290045 Frances

    Actually, I think hatred is – sadly – an innate part of mankind, and that religions have generally tried to suppress this particular character flaw. Obviously, not always successful.

    I also query how really religious some of the purveyors of hatred were over the centuries. After all, until recently, there was a lot of secular power vested in the religious hierarchy (and still is in the Muslim world). So an ambitious man might well see the road to worldly power going through church/mosque/temple.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      I tend to believe in the basic goodness of most people and that hatred is taught. I watch my grandson who is developing. He is basically a good person as are the other children he plays with. The problem children tend to be those with parents who have taught them to be either aggressive or intolerant either directly or by their own behaviour.

      As this video shows, some folks institutionalize the teaching of hatred in the mistaken belief that it not only legitimizes it but somehow makes the world a better place.

      But I do agree with you about the secular side of religion. That is human beings trivializing the teaching of their faith for their own benefit.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13952798313519783430 Renaissance Nerd

      I think the idea that people are innately good is one of the reasons hatred gains such a hold over so many. We are not innately good. Take another look at your grandson. He’s innocent, not good. Tots are pure love and generosity one moment and selfishly brutal the next. They have to be TAUGHT to be good, to overcome their innate selfishness. What happens to cause hatred is the concept that our tribe is all good and other tribes are all bad, and it doesn’t matter how the tribe is defined. If it’s Christianity or the South Phoenix Cuddly Bunnies it’s the same dynamic.
      The Westboro Baptists and others like this bunch you single out aren’t Christian in the sense that they follow Christ. They ignore His teachings at will, but they’re hardly unique in that regard.
      I don’t hate homosexuals; I pity them. It seems like a horribly shallow life to me, without hope and without future. However if there were a plebiscite to outlaw homosexuality I would vote against it. All laws are legislated morals, because morals change with the tides of civilization. Virtues cannot be legislated, goodness cannot be forced, and righteousness is a long, difficult process, not a hole to punch on the march into heaven. We Mormons call it “enduring to the end.” Free will is an essential component of Christianity, because if we cannot choose to sin, we cannot choose to repent and return to God either. Those choices are eternal necessities, and children in their innocence have to be taught how to choose–given as much knowledge as possible so they know their choices exist. My father gave me a pamphlet with the contrasting beliefs of 30 religions on it, and told me to study them out, know what I was doing before I became a Deacon in our church. I probably took it farther than he wanted; I had read the Quran, Jehovah’s Witness and Catholic Bibles, the Baghavad Gita and many more by the time I was 14, but here I am 30 years later, still a Mormon. His always struck me as the position of strength and confidence–“go ahead, study the others, you’ll see we’re right.”
      That’s the way to ‘indoctrinate’ a child–give the knowledge and expand the horizons and allow the choice. I have cousins who are homosexual, and while I disapprove of and pity their choices, I believe God loves them every bit as much as He does all of us, and I should follow his example especially if it makes me uncomfortable. He doesn’t hate, full stop. Jesus said: “What manner of men ought ye to be? Even as I Am.” He doesn’t hate, neither should we, ever. I’ve got more than enough weaknesses of my own–I need mercy and forgiveness constantly. St. James: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
      I’ve never committed any of the sins that most consider really awful. But I’ve got about a bazillion other sins and it doesn’t matter if they’re not individually as bad as adultery or murder. Guilty is guilty.
      Joseph Smith: “And I say unto you there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over the ninety-and-nine just persons that are so righteous; they will be damned anyway, you cannot save them.”

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      While I appreciate your tolerance of those with whom you disagree, you seem to think that homosexuality is a conscious choice. In fact, it is a genetic circumstance that happens across nature. Human beings are not the only species to have members who are homosexual. It occurs in birds, mammals and some fish. Nobody wakes up one morning and just decides to be gay especially considering how poorly gays are treated in our society. They are born gay and that’s all there is to it.

      But we do agree on the point that God loves us all regardless of our sexual orientation, race or culture although I am quite convinced that it must be difficult for him to love those who so terribly distort his message and gift to us.

  • Anonymous

    Good post! Ruth 1:16
    “entreat me not to leave after following thee, whether thou go I will go, where thou lodge I will lodge,thy people will be my people and thy God my God”
    Sounds like a very powerful commitment to me from Ruth to Naomi, what they were to each other?
    We must love one another life is too short for hatred.
    Cheers Bubba

  • Anonymous

    a true Christian would ask a homosexual to give up the sin and ask Christ to forgive and save him. short of that they would leave the person to go his own way.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      I agree with that to an extent. I personally don’t hate homosexuality but I understand that others might. It’s what they do about it that is important. We can’t help what we feel or believe. In any event, I believe it is more Christian to hate the sin but love the sinner than to simply condemn those we hate or with whom we disagree.

      Thank you for reading this post and for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate it.

  • Anonymous

    It’s an Apostolic church, not Baptist.
    And, yes, it’s disgusting.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16123459288721211812 Bear

      It was identified as a Baptist church but it hardly matters. The division of Christianity into its various denominations is a human concept that is merely one more distortion of the original teachings of Christ, who was actually a Jewish rabbi.