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Why Atheists Support Christians Who Mock the Church

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that so many atheists support “Christian” sites that mock the Church. It should be odd, I think, that so many Christians approve of said support.

I’ve gone on record with my concerns about this hate machine and the professing Christians who keep it well-oiled. So yesterday, I linked to an article at Christ and Pop Culture that shares some of my concerns, Stop Hate-Watching the Church. The author, Richard Clark, concluded:

I just want to be completely clear about this: If you are harmed by Christian culture to the point that you have given up on Christianity altogether, I get that. If you find Christian truth claims to be negative and harmful, that’s fair enough. I wouldn’t want to make any claims about how you deal with your struggles. You may do whatever you want.

But groups like these have engendered a culture that identifies as Christian, yet despises the Church. They have led fellow Christians to hate and despise their brothers and sisters for the sake of “venting.” But Christians are held to a different standard, one that results in edification and unity for the sake of the Church. To struggle with that standard is understandable, but to reject it altogether is giving up, on the Church, on the teachings of Christ, and on your own spiritual sanctification. (emphasis mine)

In response, The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta countered with It’s Perfectly Acceptable to Mock Church Culture. After quoting the founder of Stuff Christian Culture Likes (SCCL), Stephanie Drury, Mehta summarizes:

There are, of course, two kinds of people who enjoy SCCL, as Stephanie alluded to.

The first are people like me, atheists who want to expose the lies and antics of Christian leaders, in the hopes that it might shake some Christians out of their shells and give them the evidence they need to get the hell out of church.

The second are Christians who think their faith has been hijacked by people whose motivations don’t align with their own. It’s cathartic to realize that the shit you hate about the church is the same shit other Christians hate about the church.

So according to Mehta, the reason atheists support Christians who mock the church is because they share the same objective: “to expose the lies and antics of Christian leaders.” Where they differ, apparently, is that those Christians who support hate-watching do so because they believe “their faith has been hijacked by people whose motivations don’t align with their own.”

The question I can’t seem to answer is this issue of “faith,” and…

Why in the world would any atheist support a movement which seeks to refine, empower, and articulate a belief system that is diametrically opposed to their own?

Think about it. If the real goal of these Church / Fundamentalist watchdog communities is to help survivors return to the “real” faith, serve the “real” Jesus, and cleanse the Church of the Pharisees and overlords who have perverted it, they are an even worse threat to atheists than the buffoons they now oppose!

Basic Christian beliefs look something like this:

  • A Supreme Being / God exists
  • The world is not an evolutionary accident, it was created by God
  • Human beings are not evolutionary accidents, but created in the image of God
  • We have fallen from God’s original purpose for our species; we are sinners
  • God came to earth in the form of a Man to redeem us from our sins
  • After death, our spirit will live on and give account to God

So I’m wondering which one of those beliefs align with the atheist’s?

None.

Why then do atheists support Christians who mock the Church? Especially if the goal of these Christians is to make healthier Christians!? The answer is pretty simple: They both have the same agenda. They want to “shake some Christians out of their shells and give them the evidence they need to get the hell out of church.”

Atheists want to keep people out of church.

But are the Christian church-haters really any different?

Might I suggest that someone HAS been hijacked. It’s not just Fundamentalist whackos who’ve hijacked the true faith. It’s those who claim to fight these monsters by “sit[ting] in the company of mockers” (Ps. 1:1 NIV).

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{ 44 comments… add one }
  • Scott Roche July 23, 2013, 1:58 PM

    I don’t think you could properly call the Christians who are fans of SCCL as “church haters”. I often take the time to point out issues with christian pop-culture and the things evangelical leaders say. That doesn’t mean I hate the church. Doesn’t even mean I hate people like Joel Olsteen (though he’s a dangerous man). It just means I think these things are worth pointing out.

    Having said that, I think it’s possible that there are people on both ends of the spectrum who are being used for non-Christian purposes.

    • Mike Duran July 23, 2013, 3:32 PM

      I agree with you, in part, Scott. I don’t think you could properly call ALL the Christians who are fans of SCCL as “church haters.” No way. I have no doubt many of them are truly seeking healing and genuinely want to further the Gospel. But from my perspective, that’s not always obvious from the vitriol and snark, and the constant banging on people / programs / venues they dislike.

      • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 5:12 AM

        Banging on individuals in a hateful way isn’t love (*mild snark* unless you’re Jesus/Paul apparently *miled snark*). Programs and venues are open to barbs in my opinion.

        • Nikole Hahn July 24, 2013, 12:09 PM

          Not to mention, we need to remember in our barbs to also show the good.

    • Nikole Hahn July 24, 2013, 12:08 PM

      I, too, have a problem with Christian pop culture. I think people misunderstand the feel good in it to be a relationship with Christ. Then, the hard times come and they forget Whom they follow. But then that could be me being judgmental, too. Only God really knows people’s hearts. And because we’re human we will make mistakes or inadvertently hurt people. But let’s just say I am concerned about the pop culture even though I do enjoy it.

  • J.S. Clark July 23, 2013, 2:00 PM

    You know, I have found myself all too often part of the problem you’re addressing, and I want to thank you for your work over the past year or so in helping me to remember that Messiah died for the church. He loves the church, and anything said for it or against it needs to be from that heart as well. The criticism that doesn’t lead us back together in worship of God is just condemnation.

    • Nikole Hahn July 24, 2013, 12:05 PM

      Change has to happen from within a church body and change won’t happen if believers continually get upset about small issues and leave. Perseverance creates relationships. Prayer changes people and circumstances, if it’s God’s will and if the people listen. A lot of good happens in church which gets buried under all the complaints. I think it’s okay to question, but to condemn, which is what I see too often, is certainly not attractive or helpful.

  • christopher clack July 23, 2013, 2:05 PM

    So where in Christianity do two of your points come from? can you tell me?
    “The world is not an evolutionary accident, it was created by God ”
    and
    “Human beings are not evolutionary accidents, but created in the image of God”
    this is culturally derived opinion, not basic Christian belief.
    Many Christians accept the the basic principles of evolution for the development of life on the planet and find no problems with this and holding a Christian faith.
    If you had said, the world was created by God and man is made in the image of God,
    i can cope with that.

    • Mike Duran July 23, 2013, 3:39 PM

      christopher, I don’t see how saying “the world was created by God and man is made in the image of God” is any different than what I said. The fact that either was “created” means it wasn’t an accident. Personally, I have no problem accepting “basic principles of evolution.”

      • christopher clack July 23, 2013, 4:11 PM

        Its because you say basic Christian beliefs look like this, and then go on to say ‘Human beings are not evolutionary accidents,’ basic Christianity as i understand it does not ‘get into’ ‘evolution’ or evolutionary theory, Christians may have different opinions about it, but its not part of the gospels or of religious language. Your wording sets up a sort of competitive edge where there is none.

        • Mike Duran July 23, 2013, 4:29 PM

          While not part of the Gospel, Christianity is distinguished, among other things, by belief in a Supreme Being who created the world and created beings in His image. The processes He used are up for debate. But the spontaneous generation of matter apart from God would not be compatible with Scripture, nor would a belief that man is simply an advanced animal.

          • christopher clack July 24, 2013, 1:28 AM

            you say ‘while not part of the gospel’ , yet in your words you talk as if it is, or it is almost implied, it confuses the issue.

            Evolutionary theory says nothing about the , ,spontaneous generation of matter, if fact as far as i can see the gosples have very little to say regarding a cosmology of any kind , dealing more with how we lead our lives.
            The reputation of Christianity is very much damaged by lose talk in this area .

            • Matthew Sample II July 25, 2013, 6:48 AM

              If Christianity is true, then not only did God have his hand in the very beginning of all life, but he controlled the outcome. The scripture is clear that Jesus’ sacrifice was an event settled before creation.

              Interestingly, nature was affected in man’s fall, and it will be redeemed when Jesus comes to make all things new.

              So, while most systematic theologies may not work the surrounding nature into the gospel, they are connected. Everything is connected, as Cloud Atlas recently advertised. 😉

  • Janet July 23, 2013, 2:42 PM

    Dear Mike,
    excellent post. I shared on my facebook page. Yes, there are problems with the Christian culture, but usually (since I have lived most of my life as an unbeliever, and then 17 years as a Christian) I find most of the crap is worldy, worming its way into the church. It is easy to spot, at least for me, because I used to live it.
    And yet, how does that get translated into giving up Christianity?

    I always say to the “Christians” who complain about the hypocrites in the church, yes, but not as bad as the hypocrites outside the church. lol They are taken back, like somehow hypocrites only exist inside the church. It is just bad theology on their part, thinking Christians are saying they are perfect, when this is the exact opposite of what we say.
    It is like that joke or saying I have heard (can’t remember where), that yes it smells in the church, but not as bad as the stench outside. Exactly! It only reinforces a Christian worldview – sin is sin, inside and out. This actually drives me to our loving Father God even more. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

    Blessings,
    Janet

    • Bobby July 24, 2013, 9:25 AM

      It’s a tale of two extremes. In an effort to create distance from a frustrating, oft-fake Christian/Evangelical church, you run the other direction and, thanks to the internet, find like-minded individuals in which to generate bitterness, anger, resentment and superior-mindedness.

      Much of this is done subconsciously. That’s why the effects of what Mike’s describing are exactly the same as the effects decried by those who constantly badger the church: they are pros at pointing out the hypocrisy of the church and fail to find any fault in what they’re doing. It’s the log and the eye situation. The criticized church is blind to their own failings, as are their detractors.

  • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 9:52 AM

    True or false – There are large numbers of atheists who wouldn’t support Christians who make the Church.

    • D.M. Dutcher July 24, 2013, 3:50 PM

      False, actually. Mocking Christianity seems to be a large enough part of atheist culture that it runs the risk of dominating it. It literally makes its identity out of an antipathy for Christianity, from Darwin fish to Flying Spaghetti Monsters to Raptor Jesus to what have you. It’s done this from the start, to humorous extremes; I watch Japanese anime, and whenever it’s explicitly atheist it almost always attacks a religion based on Christianity even though a tiny amount of Japanese actually practice it.

      • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 4:02 PM

        “It’s done this from the start, to humorous extremes”

        Because it IS humor. But you didn’t really answer the question. I didn’t say “Are there are a large number of atheists who mock the church”. I said “are there a large number of atheists who would support Christians who mock the church”. Your examples don’t answer that question. I’ve had atheists question my own mocking of certain church views.

        • D.M. Dutcher July 24, 2013, 4:31 PM

          Yeah, there are large numbers that would support Christians mocking their own faith. It’s just that not many do it in the public eye.

          • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 4:44 PM

            So you’re just supposing. That says a lot about what you think of atheists.

            • D.M. Dutcher July 24, 2013, 4:49 PM

              Not many Christians mock their faith in the public eye and remain Christians for long. I’ve dealt with atheists many a time, and I know what I think; the difference is I’m not a self-hating Christian any more, and I don’t feel the need to apologize for my faith nor defend them like a white knight in order to show that I am somehow different than the rest of us. I went through that phase myself, and at some point, we have to call a spade a spade.

  • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 9:53 AM

    That should be “mock”. I have fat fingered ALL THE THINGS today.

  • Shawn July 24, 2013, 10:08 AM

    Hello! Atheist here. I was directed to this site by my friend Scott. While I certainly don’t speak for all (or even necessarily most) atheists, I wanted to address this question:

    “Why then do atheists support Christians who mock the Church? Especially if the goal of these Christians is to make healthier Christians!?”

    I would say it’s because it’s not the church I oppose, but its intrusion into public life in ways that affect secular people and the undo privilege it receives in American society. Any criticism, perhaps even at times mocking, that attacks either of those things is something I’m likely to support. If a ‘healthier’ Christian is one that sees the folly of mixing any religion with politics and sees all people as being free to pursue their beliefs unmolested then I’d love to see more of them.

  • Nikole Hahn July 24, 2013, 11:44 AM

    Do current Mormons go online and put down their church? Mormons are unified. Atheists are unified. Why aren’t we unified and taking care of the issues within our church body? Christians are so easily divided by the littliest things like the common complaints of “not being fed” or “he/she wasn’t friendly.” People are forgetting to pepper their complaints with the GOOD the church does in a community. That is even more illustrated in places like Oklahoma after a tornado and here in Arizona following the Yarnell and Doce fires.

    • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 11:47 AM

      Atheists aren’t “unified”. And the LDS church is considered a cult by most evangelicals. Is this how we should handle things?

      • Nikole Hahn July 24, 2013, 11:53 AM

        They are where it concerns trying to eradicate Christianity from the world. Their methods may vary. LDS is considered a cult and that’s my point. If a cult can be unified and draw in “believers” to their circle, how is our open criticism over small things that can be fixed and are often the fault of the complainer going to help the Christian cause? Being an atheist, Scott, you can’t really answer that. The comment was directed at Christians whom I have met that disparage others for not living up to their impossibly high standards and forgetting we also need to speak on the good the church does in the community. One atheist once tweeted something like, “What’s the church doing in Moore? How are they helping?” or something like that where the person questioned whether Christians were stepping out of their comfort zones to help others. Most things I’ve read where people complained about church are fixable things. Theological differences are different, but then, the Bible does speak about false teachers.

        • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 12:09 PM

          Nikole,

          Respectfully I’ve known more than a few atheists/agnostics in my life and very few of them spend any time “trying to eradicate Christianity” from anywhere (except maybe public policy, which I’m okay with to a point). And as much of a “cult” as the LDS may be, they’re hardly monolithic.

          I’m actually a Christian and a bit of a complainer. I’m not sure how to handle bad theology like Joel Olsteen’s privately. Publically I let my atheist and my Christian (and Hindu and Bhuddist and etc) friends know that I don’t stand with that.

          I also speak of the good of the church where I find it.

          • Nikole Hahn July 24, 2013, 12:13 PM

            I don’t care for Joel Osteen either. He’s of the prosperity theology which is bad and dangerous. Plus, no one is THAT happy all of the time. LOL. Unfortunately, Scott, a lot of atheists are unified in eradicating Christianity from public policy and beyond. If they are a small percentage, they certainly are loud. My family is deep in the cult and the roots run long. I am not obviously, but I do have some history with LDS. The only ones who are not unified together for LDS are the ex-mormons. Having been in it, I know how united they are inside and out. We could learn some lessons from that, but they, of course, are controlling, too. We could do without that. LOL.

            • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 12:21 PM

              Keep in mind that a lot of people think “Christians are all XYZ (young earthers, hate mongers, Republican’ts)” because of a few vocal minorities.

              • Nikole Hahn July 24, 2013, 2:57 PM

                Now that was offensive. I am a young earther, not a hate monger, and I am a republican conservative. We’re not a minority.

                • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 3:33 PM

                  My intent wasn’t to lump the three together. You can be two of those three things without being the other or any one of them.

                • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 3:56 PM

                  Less than 50% of American Christians are YEC. A hair over half of Rebublicans identify as “born again Christians”. So that leaves almost half of Republicans that don’t and then there are the democrats that are Christian and the ones that aren’t. In my mind that makes you a minority, if not among Christians then overall. I suspect that globally you are.

          • Jessica Thomas July 24, 2013, 1:23 PM

            “I’m not sure how to handle bad theology like Joel Olsteen’s privately. Publically I let my atheist and my Christian (and Hindu and Bhuddist and etc) friends know that I don’t stand with that.”

            I think Christians are notoriously bad about speaking out against the bad theology. Speaking for myself, I do find the thought of ruffling the feathers of fellow Christians intimidating. But it shouldn’t stop me from standing up for truth.

            Does what I’m saying have anything to do with the original blog post?

            Oh.

            ‘They both have the same agenda. They want to “shake some Christians out of their shells and give them the evidence they need to get the hell out of church.’

            I concur based on my observations of such church bashing discussions. Although, Scott, I do know of an atheist who enjoys attending church services. So there are anomalies.

      • Nikole Hahn July 24, 2013, 11:56 AM

        And if you are a Christian, Scott. Forgive me. I was scanning comments and might have confused you with Shawn. :o)

    • Jessica Thomas July 24, 2013, 1:14 PM

      The Mormon unification strikes me as forced and unnatural; therefore, I’m hesitant to trust it.

      • Nikole Hahn July 24, 2013, 2:58 PM

        You shouldn’t trust anything Mormon, but that being said, they are unified.

        • Scott Roche July 24, 2013, 3:58 PM

          “You shouldn’t trust anything Mormon”

          What does that mean?

      • Nikole Hahn July 24, 2013, 3:01 PM

        But not everyone knows much about Mormon theology. It’s kind of shocking when I find those people. I have to educate them and encourage them to educate themselves. So it’s easy to see their lure.

        • Jessica Thomas July 24, 2013, 7:35 PM

          Nicole, I’m with you. I spot the lie. I spot it very clearly. That being said, Mormons seem, as a whole, to be a very nice bunch of people.

  • D.M. Dutcher July 24, 2013, 5:19 PM

    I think many people are used in such a way. It’s easy to mock what we believe in, or worse, what others bearing our name believe in, because we really want to be liked. We don’t want to lose our atheist friends, or be seen as rigid, inflexible, or a fundamentalist. No one wants to be on the losing side, or cause people offense or discomfort. So the temptation is to mock or underplay our own beliefs. I remember doing this as a kid, and people do it now.

    In the end though, the bar just keeps moving. Stuff like prosperity theology is low-hanging fruit because for many Christians, people who believe in it are the Other. But Friendly is honest in what he says; he wants people to stop being Christians, and at some point we’re going to reach a point where we cannot mock what we believe in and we’ll have to tell Friendly he’s wrong. Otherwise it’s really easy to slide into no longer believing by default.

  • StuartB July 25, 2013, 5:50 PM

    No mention of 1 Cor. 5:12?

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