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Not everyone hates Christians, but it seems that most Christians have felt hated at some time by someone because of their faith.

Is there a specific reason behind the hatred I've seen towards Christians as a group? Is the reason different among former Christians than with those who never held the faith?

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Wouldn't it make more sense to ask this question to non-Christians? Any Christian answering this would just be guessing. –  Brendan Long Sep 14 '11 at 22:00
    
@Brendan true, but do you have any other site you can think of to ask in? :) –  Phonics The Hedgehog Sep 14 '11 at 23:13
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Not sure, I just feel like not asking actual non-Christians what they think may be contributing to this. See Marc Gravell's commends on the accepted question -- You accepted an answer which could be paraphrased as "because they're not Christians, and non-Christians hate good things". Unfortunately, that's an extremely common opinion (along with "people are atheists because they hate god", rather than "people are atheists because they don't believe in god"), and the sum of those opinions are a large part of why a lot of atheists just avoid Christians in general. –  Brendan Long Sep 15 '11 at 0:04
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There is a better explanation (it's the highest voted answer): Some self-professed Christians are extremely antagonistic towards non-Christians. Sometimes it's denying services to non-Christians, sometimes it's harassment, sometimes it's outright violence. This is what non-Christians see.. and then other Christians see people not liking them, and assume it's just because non-Christians "don't get it", ignoring even the possibility that there might be a real reason for how people act. –  Brendan Long Sep 15 '11 at 2:30
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I'm mainly just worried that you're stuck in a sort of feedback loop, where Christians tell each-other that that's the reason, giving you a convenient excuse to ignore the real problem -- a problem which I doubt you're the cause of, but should be aware of if you want discussions with non-believers to be effective. –  Brendan Long Sep 15 '11 at 3:45

9 Answers 9

up vote 22 down vote accepted

I don't think that Christians face any more bigotry than any other group. As TRiG pointed out in his answer, there are many American Christians who have chosen to interpret their loss of special privilege in our culture to be "hatred against Christians", when in reality it results not from hatred, but from a desire for equality.

However, there are those who fear Christians, and fear is easy to mistake for hatred. There was a time when I just didn't get the fear that some people showed toward Christians. Then the military stationed my family in the Bible Belt...

  • A Christian neighbor found out that my family is not Christian. She called a local Christian preacher, who tried to break into my house with the stated goal of beating me until I miscarried (I was 6.5 months pregnant). The (apparently Christian) police refused to come to my aid.

  • My (Jewish) friend's child innocently and accidentally outed himself to his Christian first grade classmates; they beat him so badly he spent three days in intensive care.

  • My Catholic mother was harassed and kicked out of a quilt shop for not being the "right" kind of Christian.

  • I spent time with a Red Cross worker who had come from trying to restore the economies in third-world communities where Christian missionaries had disrupted the food supply, local medical care, and more in their attempts to convert the locals.

  • I watched Christian babies in the NICU denied the breast milk that could have bolstered their immune systems because the local Christian sects taught that breastfeeding was a sin.

  • I saw a Christian chaplain deny needed services to people who put their lives on the line for our country, because he did not believe that non-Christians were deserving of his time.

Because much of my extended family is Christian, I have exposure to Christians who aren't violent, destructive, sex offenders, or trying to force their religion on others through economic and/or political coercion. The thing is, most non-Christians only run into Christians when they are doing these things, so they believe that such behavior is emblematic of mainstream Christianity. To my knowledge, of these practices only missionary work is mainstream -- and the destruction caused is usually not intentional, but the result of ignorance about social and economic systems they are affecting.

Unfortunately, most Christians seem to think that if they quietly ignore these problems, they will go away. However, until the sane Christians publicly step in when the fringe gets out of control, the fringe will continue to be all that non-Christians see, and they'll have defined Christianity for most outsiders.

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Were there no comments on this or have they all been deleted? If there were no comments, then that's a pretty sad sign of apathy on the part of Christians. But, as a Christian, I humbly apologize for the agony you've gone through at our hands. –  Peter Turner Sep 6 '11 at 16:02
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I am shocked... at how some christians act. Seriously? They are the ones it seems to be tarnashing our image. –  Phonics The Hedgehog Sep 15 '11 at 3:19
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This sounds like "Christianity Gone Wild". –  Anonymous Feb 15 at 1:08

Why do people hate Christians? That's a pretty broad question.

In some cultures, for example rural Hinduism, Christianity's message of favor for the poor is a real threat to the traditional caste system. I know the caste system's outlawed in India, but it is still ingrained. So Christianity catches some flak there.

In other cultures, like urban Alexandria in Egypt, Christians and Muslims fight each other and attack each others' houses of worship from tribal fear. Each group believes (usually falsely) that the other group is getting unfair preferential treatment. There are also long-lived dehumanizing myths in each group about the other. (No, they DON'T eat babies for breakfast. Seriously.)

In American culture, there's an unfortunate history of coercion and abuse by various churches and their clergy. People sometimes yell rude things at me when I'm visible in clergy clothing in public, especially in the company of my children or children of my parishioners. I am quite sure that's because of the recent child-abuse scandals. Do I wish people would stop doing this? I'm not sure. If that rude behavior prevents the abuse of even one child, it's worthwhile. Meantime, I have two cheeks.

It's important to avoid self-righteousness when reading "blessed are you when people revile you on account of the Son of Man." (Luke 6:22) It's NOT good to be hated and reviled. It's not good when others dehumanize you, or when you dehumanize them. It is good to stick to your principles without caving to pressure.

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Good point about persecution not being good. It's easy for a Christian to act in a very unchrist-like manner, and perceive the predictable response as persecution rather than justified criticism. It happens when we miss out the "on account of the Son of Man" part of that verse. –  Eclipse Feb 27 '13 at 3:55

See John 15: 18-19 (KJV).

18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

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Touché - exactly what I first thought of. –  Lawrence Dol Aug 26 '11 at 18:27
    
+1 for the biblical response but I'm guessing that the OP is thinking along more sociological lines. –  Jeff Aug 26 '11 at 22:19
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Quotes without explanation or interpretation aren't really adding to the site. I'd assume most/all of our community members already have copies of the Bible, so please make a contribution by explaining what you feel the text you've quoted means with respect to the question asked, and why. –  HedgeMage Aug 31 '11 at 1:53
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This doesn't actually answer the question. –  TRiG Sep 14 '11 at 4:47

I don't think non-Christians even bother to separate the various Christian sects from each other, let alone crazy people from "real" Christians. Westboro Baptist Church, multiple Republican candidates who all say God told them to run for the presidency, and those countless pedophiles who are also priests or ministers: what's not to hate?

Christianity knowingly and publicly commits hateful atrocities on a daily basis as part of sanctioned doctrine. While we all know that evil done in the name of religion isn't religion's fault, Christianity's been screwing up since well before the Crusades. Christianity is practically rabid about its missionarying; outsiders probably think it should start missionarying to itself.

It's a sin to be gay? Fine, it's also a sin to eat shellfish. Non-Christians can read the bible as well as anyone and they know that hatred is deliberately encouraged by many Christians.

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As much as I disagree with the sentiment behind this answer, it is certainly useful. +1 –  Robert Haraway Oct 21 '11 at 3:57
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I agree with some of your first sentence, but the rest shows a rather skewed view even with the hint of truth that it contains. It seems that you recognize that many different 'sects' share different beliefs yet you don't separate hate, corruption, or even current anti-gay movements from Christianity. –  Jason Feb 26 '13 at 2:37

In addition to the reasons posted in other answers here. (misunderstanding, threats to social systems, almost legitimate social stigma), we should add that the basic reason the gospel is not welcomed as good news throughout the world is our attachment to sin.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19 KJV)

Misunderstandings are what happen when people haven't seen the light come into the world because it has been presented to them as darkness. The recent castigation of the priesthood is more and less legitimate, more because there is real darkness present in the allegations, but less legitimate because this darkness people use to excuse their own darkness. Instead of throwing light onto clergy and self alike, it is often more comfortable to point fingers, as though God were fooled by our misdirection. We fool ourselves.

A threat to a social system is even less legitimate, for the situation is that light has made people uncomfortable, and we instinctively squint our eyes when light is so bright as to be painful. But finally, at the root we all do things we know we ought not, and leave undone what was God's behest. Willingly we turn from the light and wish it would leave well enough alone while we perish in darkness. That in us which is of the world, the flesh, the carnal man within detests Christians because Christians are salt and light. Light reveals, and salt magnifies the true flavor.

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"we should add that the basic reason the gospel is not welcomed as good news throughout the world is our attachment to sin" - I actually find that offensive. The reason the gospel is not welcomed is that by many it is not believed; sin is unrelated. Most atheists/other-faiths live perfectly moral/ethical lives. As long as the above attitude remains, little progress is made. That basically says "you don't believe? you must be a bad person then". There, right there is perhaps a better explanation of why the barriers are so large. –  Marc Gravell Sep 3 '11 at 10:39
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@Marc Gravell Thank you for your thoughtful comment and downvote. I will take some time to properly formulate a response. –  Robert Haraway Sep 5 '11 at 1:34
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You're welcome. In this case, yes: I did downvote - I disagree with the answer - it may, however, be unwise to make that assumption; I've seen similar be wrong and cause offence. However my point is: using introspection and the group's own beliefs/writings is not a good way to establish why an outsider to the group does not agree. That is merely self-assurance and insular. A better approach would be to enquire outside your own group. Also - on "misunderstading"; I understand Christianity very well, but do not accept it (I also do not hate it). –  Marc Gravell Sep 5 '11 at 7:16
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I haven't forgotten about this; I'm just fairly busy right now. My answer as given here is too easy to misinterpret, and I think I shall delete it entirely upon formulating (I hope) a better answer. –  Robert Haraway Oct 9 '11 at 3:31

People don't really hate Christians any more than they hate any other group. In much of the world, Christians have a place of privilege, embedded in society to such an extent that it's assumed that everyone you meet is a Christian, and Christian holidays and norms are part of the social calendar. (Witness the absurd nonsense spouted every year about the "war on Christmas".)

In other parts of the world, Christians are a minority, but I've seen no evidence that they're discriminated against any more than any other minority.

The "hatred" you're talking about is actually two (distinct, but related) things:

  • In places where Christianity has long held sway over society, where non-Christians were distrusted, and Christian beliefs were enshrined in legislation forcing everyone else to follow them, Christians are now losing that power.There are fewer prayers in schools, Christian "morality" is not forced on the world at large. Non-discrimination acts are put in place. Christianity is moving from a place of privilege to a position of equality. That means it's losing power, but it's not actually being discriminated against, and it's far from being hated.
  • The Bible says that Christians will be hated (see @Mason Wheeler's answer). That means that Christians have an investment in being persecuted. They want to be persecuted, so they'll take any small slight (or even loss of privilege) and interpret it as hatred. It's a persecution complex, and it's not healthy. This is most common among right wing authoritarian Christians, who feel that they have the right to run everyone else's life. (There is in fact good documented evidence that one of the most socially powerful groups in the modern USA, white evangelical Christians, have a serious persecution complex.)

The most obvious example of both the above points in action together is the people who claim that use of the phrase "Happy Holidays" discriminates against Christians. What? So not assuming that everyone is a Christian is discriminating against Christians? Huh?

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"Absurd nonsense?" The war on Christmas is obvious to anyone who's paying attention. That attitude reminds me of Baudelaire: "[The devil] assured me that he himself was the person the most interested in the destruction of superstition, and admitted to me that he had only been afraid for his own power one time, and that was the day when he had heard a preacher, more subtle than his colleagues, shout out from the pulpit: My dear brothers, never forget, when you hear the progress of enlightenment vaunted, that the devil's best trick is to persuade you that he doesn't exist!" –  Mason Wheeler May 15 '12 at 20:39
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@MasonWheeler. Thanks for the laugh. The "War on Christmas" really does amuse me. It's such a wonderfully absurd conspiracy theory. –  TRiG May 15 '12 at 20:45
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I wonder how much hatred comes from the economic and military success of "the West". Being different is bad enough, but being powerful/successful might be further abrasive--such gains must be ill-gotten. I would not be surprised if hatred of Jews and Asians in the U.S. is increased by their typical emphasis on hard work/integrity and education. Moral superiority can also be annoying, especially with humility and gentleness; a devout Muslim might significantly annoy a semi-practicing but doctrinally informed Christian. –  Paul A. Clayton Feb 26 '13 at 0:00
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@Jason X in X-mas means Christ. I don't understand what you are saying. –  fredsbend the Grinch Feb 26 '13 at 3:12
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@Jason Wikipedia has an article on it. X is the Greek letter Chi and was to abbreviate Christ. Wikipedia thinks this misconception is somewhat common. –  fredsbend the Grinch Feb 26 '13 at 3:23

Check out MLK's stance against the Vietnam War and I think you'll learn a great deal about it.

MLK went so far as to give speeches that Militarism, Materialism, Racism, and Poverty were all bad things, and lived his life to his death pushing these sorts of ideas.

Although this sort of life is a good Christian one, it really doesn't sit well especially with those in power that wield most of the Militarism, Materialism, and that cause most of the Poverty.

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For the most part it comes down to plain old discrimination. Many people hate what they don't understand. Non-Christians don't have the market cornered on it either. As Christians it is important we respond with love an understanding.

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The Bible is clear that Christians will go through persecution (from a spiritual origin) due to Christ's name alone. However, we live in a time that all customs and beliefs are under attack from all angles. There's clear anti-Christian elements in the world today, but no more than the hate for Jews, Muslims, etc that is also very evident. I believe that all of the above answers/comments have a ring of truth to them - some illustrate the spiritual source, some illustrate the feelings caused by abuse from Christian hands, while others illustrate the true bigotry that Christians must live with as anybody else.

In short, I believe basic human nature is a major cause, though institutionalized elements are at work as well. Can we say this is all in Christ's name? No - it's effecting everybody in our age. Will it get worse for Christians because of Christ's name alone? Only time will tell, but I believe that the Scriptures are clear on it.

While working in a penitentiary chapel I saw all levels of religious conflicts, some which lead to death of both inmates and guards. I have witnessed these events and have spoken with perpetrators of these acts after the fact. Its surprising how common the feeling of injustice was amongst these groups, yet each harbored the same basic prejudices. It was truly maddening, and very sad.

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