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On Being Christian in an Atheist Environment

I am a Christian. To clarify, this means that I believe in God. It does not mean that I hate gay people or that I picket the funerals of American servicemen. I have no intent of forcibly converting anyone who isn’t a Christian. I don’t burn books, and I certainly don’t condemn science as blasphemous. Yet these stereotypes (and others) continue to plague the majority of Christians, based on the actions of a few. (Thank you, Westboro Baptist Church).

I’ve also been informed by my peers that they don’t believe in God because all Christians are close-minded hypocrites. Okay. But how can one attack Christians or their faith based merely on stereotypes without become a hypocrite? People justify their attacks on Christians by claiming (often falsely) that Christians also attack other people, but how exactly does that make attacking Christians acceptable?

I don’t denounce others for their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, but sadly, I regularly find that I am not granted the same courtesy. Oftentimes, some (but not all) non-spiritual people will consider Christians naive, remarking that we should wake up from our fairy-tale existence and accept the godless existence that they personally prefer. They throw scientific fact at us as if proving us wrong will grant them incredible satisfaction.

Recently, at a social event, I saw one student ask another if she was religious. Her immediate response was no, but she amended that with “well, kinda. I’m supposed to be, but I’m really not.”

This particular student was going through an important religious ceremony in which she was accepting responsibility for her faith the very next day.

Incidences like this are depressingly common. Time and time again, Christian youth suppress or hide their faith from others, mumbling that our parents make us attend church or that we’re “sort of in a youth group, I guess.”

Why does such a double standard exist? Atheism is accepted as the most popular belief in this youth culture without question, but those of us who do believe often hesitate to confess this for fear of being branded by these inaccurate, derogatory stereotypes. We see the uncomfortable tensions appear as people begin to censor themselves in our company.

I begrudgingly admit that some of the negative stereotypes have roots in reality. Unfortunately, there are Christians who adopt a “holier-than-thou” attitude or protest LGBT rights. To be honest, television shows like “Good Christian B*tches,” and its flagrant Christian stereotypes aren’t helping our cause. Neither are the political pundits who claim that their religion is reason enough for election.

But no belief system or group of people is without flawed individuals, and the flaws should not define everyone else with similar beliefs. This doesn’t just apply to Christianity - I wholeheartedly believe, based on personal experiences, that there are atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Buddhists, and people of various other religions who are completely fine with Christians. After all, does religion define anyone 100%? We should certainly hope not.





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