I know this site has mostly focused on climate change and the discussion around it, but that's not it's intended purpose. It's easy to forget the intended purpose of this site is to give me a place to talk about the insanity I see in our world. I honestly believe our world is insane, and I made this site so I could talk about that. I figured it was better to write about it on a blog people could ignore than to pester people with my thoughts in real life.
So in that vein, I'm going to go a bit out of my normal comfort zone. A few hours ago, I saw an article by a guy named Bernard Goldberg. Goldberg is a kind of strange figure in my life. Growing up, I saw him on the news for a while, and I wondered why he suddenly disappeared from it. I didn't think much about it, but years later, I happened upon a book named Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News in a library. The name seemed interesting, so I checked it out. I think I had finished the book before I realized the connection between it and my childhood memories.
Basically, the book is about how the mainstream media in the United States was dominated by a left-wing bias, to the point where many people in the media didn't even realize it. They were so used to their bias they thought it was "normal." Goldberg happened to run against it in just one case, and that was enough to basically get him blacklisted. I thought it was an interesting story.
Anyway, Goldberg recently wrote an article asking, "Why Were We More Bigoted When We Were More Religious?" It notes the curious fact the United States has grown less bigoted over time, and at the same time, it has become less (self-reportedly) religious. He points out it is interesting Christianity preaches love and forgiveness yet seems to have become less popular as acceptance for other people has grown.
It's an interesting post, and whatever your views on the subject, I think it's worth considering. I, of course, have my own views on the subject, so I wrote a comment explaining them. I don't know how many people will read my comment on that website, but I liked what I had to say in it, so I thought I'd copy it here. If you aren't interested, feel free not to read any further. My next post will be about climate change again, so you might find it more interesting.
I don't think Christianity caused or causes bigotry. I think it has just been a convenient excuse to justify views people held for other reasons. For instance, I don't think the Crusades were caused by Christianity encourages people to hate Muslims. I think some people wanted to go to war for their own reasons so they dressed it up as a "religious crusade" to fool/convince people into going to war.
The same seems true for bigotry in general. People who supported slavery found excuses in the bible to justify their beliefs. People who opposed interracial marriage found excuses in the Bible to justify their beliefs. People who, to this day, oppose homosexual marriage find excuses in the Bible to justify their beliefs.
Have any of those excuses been right? Personally, I don't think so. Everyone seems to agree the excuses of the past were misguided. I think in time the same will be true of the current ones. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Christians will keep using the Bible to push against things they'd dislike regardless of whether or not the Bible condemned those things. Rock n' roll, video games, transgenderism, homosexuality, whatever. I think in time Christians will come to embrace all of those as things which are okay rather than immoral. But again, maybe I'm wrong.
But in the meantime, what I know is a lot of people have been turned off of Christianity by the hatred they perceive it to endorse. Christians will be quick to say they don't hate gay people, but trying telling that to a gay person who lives in a Christian community that condemns homosexuality as immoral. They'll disagree.
I don't think that's the major cause of the diminishment in popularity of Christianity though. If I had to guess, I'd say the main reason Christianity has become less popular has nothing to do with the actual beliefs of Christians. I think it's far simpler than that. Just like bigotry was once considered proper, being a "good Christian" used to be considered proper. Many people labeled themselves as Christians because to do otherwise was to look bad. Many people went to Church on Sunday because their neighbors' tongues would wag if they didn't.
Ultimately, I think this whole thing comes down to a simple change: people are becoming more open-minded. That means there is less bigotry, and it also means people feel less need to be "fake" Christians. That means the correlation between religion and bigotry isn't that religion causes bigotry; it's that there has been bigotry against people who aren't of a particular religion.