An Open Letter to Christian Pollution
Polemic is a philosophical disease.
I support you in your endeavors to rebut and undercut Christian Nationalism. I disagree with your methods.
I understand that once you have abandoned the belief that anything exists “up there” (like gods, angels, demons, spirits, magic, mystical forces, sin, souls, etc.) then the only reality that truly means anything is the one “down here” with all of its pursuits (economic, political, ideological, etc.). It makes complete sense. If there are no gods, no reincarnation, no afterlife awaiting us, and no divine reward or punishment, then all we should concern ourselves with is what we can do with the one life we have to improve the material conditions of it.
Accordingly, religion ought to be seen as a triumph in wasting time and distracting us from the real problems we face, problems which have secular solutions that require none of the metaphysics of theism or religious posturing to deal with. In such a world, everything becomes political, because politics is the one activity we all engage in that can change the material conditions of others. Those who stand in opposition to your preferred political order must be defeated by any means necessary, because their political order perpetuates delusions and errors (moral or otherwise) that will lead to more suffering. Nothing could be more righteous than to attack their worldview, even if those attacks are vicious. The ends justify the means.
I get it.
I have often said to friends and colleagues that if Christians are the salt of the Earth, then skeptics and critics of religion can be the pepper. Sometimes the Church needs to be shown that it is possible to love your neighbor, to do justice, to walk humbly, and to love goodness — all without loving God first or professing faith in Jesus Christ. Atheists can, have, and are doing these things. Demonstrations of this kind rebuke our public moralizing, our calls to righteous action and service, and our own laziness and indifference in the face of those who truly need the Church’s help.
When you survey a publication like Christian Pollution and glance over the content being offered, one gets the impression that it is not pepper. It is replete with axe-grinding, take-you-down-a-notch hate speech. Yes, hate speech. Not satire. Nobody could read Christian Pollution and walk away thinking gee, these guys are some upstanding atheists — real cream of the non-religious crop guys over here, pepper of the Earth! You shamelessly and unapologetically hate and troll Christianity. You call Christians dumb, stupid, f— ing idiots on a regular basis.
Surely you understand that you are really giving Christians all the evidence they need to write you off as just another angry atheist, as just another stereotypical anti-Christian character from a God’s Not Dead movie. But what is more tragic is that some of your articles actually present some solid research and well-reasoned arguments, but the light of reason (that could be convicting) barely glimmers through the smog of hate billowing from the paragraphs therein. Your vitriol for Christianity has polluted the discourse between us.
Of course, you probably think Christianity has been dealt many thousands of death blows over the last 2000 years, and that your publication is simply beating a dead horse at this point. Any reasonable person in this day and age ought to clearly see the philosophical disease for which Christianity is, and so its proponents ought to be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating Bronze Age myths and the cult of a fictitious Jesus that emerged from them. Right? So why bother raising the level of discourse? Go ahead a lower it, so you can continue to beat the dead horse into a bloody pulp.
Wheat and tares.
I am sure you are familiar with one of the parables Jesus taught using wheat and tares to illustrate a point. I will not patronize you by quoting it in this letter, but I did want to bring your attention to it.
I believe you see wheat and tares in the Church. I believe your publication is honestly targeting the tares, and that you are not trying to burn the whole field down. I hope.
For all the congregations out there that are doing impactful work in their communities, all the youth groups that are giving teenagers safe spaces to process life, all the mission teams that are helping the destitute around the world, all of the ministries that are putting their money where their mouth is — I believe you see them. I believe you see the goods and services that the wheat in the Church bring to this world. I believe that for all the hate and vitriol that you have, you would never wish for the Church to completely vanish from the face of the Earth. You see that some of us really are keeping it real, even if you think our metaphysics and apologetics are trash.
I just want you to know that I see the tares too. I see the Christians whose only aspiration to repair our broken world is by getting their candidate in the White House. I see the Christians who want to use the Church as a sanctified political action committee, ordained to usher in a theocratic America and later a theocratic Israel. I see Christians who for years campaigned to overturn Roe v Wade and now are doing nothing to support a culture of life. I see the Christians who support the wasteful and profiteering ministries of celebrity pastors and churches. I see the Christians who preach “law and order” and “personal responsibility” as a way to eschew any responsibility to be an advocate for victims of injustice or to assist those in poverty.
I see the ugliness in the Church that you see. There are many times it drives me to rage-filled rants, echoing perhaps the prophets in the Old Testament (as well as Jesus) who called out the vain elitism and hypocrisy of religious leaders. I understand the anger and indignation. There is a time and place for it. But in Christian Pollution it seems to be all the time and in all the places.
Should we be surprised when other critics of your publication resort to armchair psychologizing your writers? If a friend of mine was seemingly angry all the time, I’d begin to wonder if there was something going on in their life— some unresolved internal conflict — that was fueling all the rage. Having been through many counseling sessions myself, I understand that anger is more useful than despair, but at some point you need to work through the states of being that lead you to despair in order to truly overcome it. (I am NOT speaking as an armchair expert in psychology, rather as a human being who is committed to promoting mental health and wellness, as one who has worked through hurt and found healing.) But if everything is all good in your life and you are fulfilled in your vocation and relationships, then please forgive any offense I may have caused by bringing this up and forget this paragraph.
With all of that out of the way…
Why can’t we Christians just grow up, abandon our faith, get over ourselves, and move on?
This seems like an important question to ask in light of all of the polemic, rhetoric, and at times —reasonable arguments and critiques of Christianity. Surely the critics of Christianity see something deeply flawed with it, so much so that they feel a need to either (I) defend the rationality of an atheistic worldview, or (II) try to lead people out of faith so that they can experience human flourishing free from religious dogma and its suppression of individual thought and expression, or (III) dismantle the power of Christianity because it is ideologically opposed to some political agenda (based on the rationale I described at the beginning of this article).
One might also think that given the abundance of critiques, that surely, any rational and sane person living in this century ought to clearly see the philosophical, historical, and ideological bankruptcy of Christianity (and of all religions for that matter) to the extent that if one desires to continue practicing it, then they are willfully committing to a delusion in order to satisfy some primal psychological hope, fear, or desire. I have written an article in response to that line of thought, but suffice to say, it only further pollutes the discourse between believers and non-believers.
As for why some Christians keep doing Christianity, and why we cannot simply let our faith go and move on… I think the answer is somewhere between seeing the brokenness of our world, the brokenness in our lives, dreaming of a better way, and finding love, hope, peace, and purpose in the Gospel message and in the person and lordship of Jesus Christ. There is something to that combination of things that resonates deeply with many people, and because of that is impervious to any sort of polemic or critique because the many alternatives to the Gospel can do no better and in some cases certainly are worse.
(As for apologetics —I will be the first to admit that it is certainly used by insiders to confirm beliefs and keep a tractor lock on those who are straying from the faith, but the many cases of non-believers coming into Christianity on account of apologetics are numerous if you go looking for them. Skeptics tell us those same old same old arguments are broken, and yet they keep working for some reason. Go figure.)
If the price of sharing the love of Christ with others, of trying to make a difference in the world, and of ministering to people is that a publication like Christian Pollution is going to label me delusional. Then so be it. There are worse things that could happen in my life. But if you are willing to elevate Christian Pollution above its own smog, you would probably receive both a wider audience and more serious engagement with the articles you publish. The choice is yours of course.
Thanks for reading.
Your friend in Christ,
Rev. Gordon Tubbs