"Making fun of born-again Christians is like hunting dairy cows with a high-powered rifle and scope."

- P.J. O'Rourke

"Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil."

- Thomas Mann

"Before you 'cuse me, take a look at yourself,"

- Creedence Clearwater Revival

"Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession ... the choice to serve and be protected and plan toward being a family-maker is a choice that shouldn't be."

- Vivian Gornick
"pro-choice" speaker



CHRISTIANS: biased, bigoted, intolerant, and judgmental?
1) bias, bigotry, and intolerance


"The evaporation of the four million who believe in this crap [Christ's return] would leave the world a better place."

- Andrei Codrescu
National Public Radio's
All Things Considered

"After coming in contact with a religious man, I always feel that I must wash my hands."

- Friedrich Nietzsche

4.1 Culture war: Welcome to the front.

Men and women, Republicans and Democrats, Christians and non-Christians: any group into which people can be categorized has some rival group accusing it of being guilty of everything under the sun. As long as groups continue to consist of people, I doubt any group will perfectly live up to the ideal it projects. But in modern America, the rivalry between competing groups and ideologies has become so intense that this competition has been coined the culture war.

One tactic currently in vogue in attacking the Christian ideology and its adherents is to associate them with words such as bias, intolerance, and other similar descriptors. Be aware that entire books exist devoted to culture war discussions and this site is not one of them. This is only a clarification of four of the most frequent associations: bias, bigotry, intolerance, and judgmentalism.

4.2 What is bias?

The labeling of anyone as biased seems to imply a certain falsehood about them. Bias even suggests that the accusers who rooted out this supposedly wicked shortcoming are themselves unbiased. Is one side biased and the other not? Specifically, are Christians biased? The answer is discovered in learning the definition of the word.

Bias is defined as the favoring of one argument over another. Bias, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad, but simply an inclination towards one idea over another. It is no more biased to be a Christian than it is to not be one. Examples of bias would be a preference for ice cream over broccoli, believing that the earth is spherical instead of flat, or the inclination to think that the Bible causes more harm than good. The question should not be "Are you biased?", but rather "Towards what are you biased and why?".

In spite of this clarification, bias is often incorrectly used to charge someone with having reached conclusions without the facts, or of willfully distorting the truth. Consider the accusation that someone who believes in God must be biased. This was the accusation Supreme Court Justice Souter received when it became public that he, for whatever it meant, believed in God.

Opponents to Justice Souter's nomination angrily objected that his beliefs might influence his actions. This objection was absurd at face value because everyone's actions correlate to his or her beliefs. But it was a notoriously false implication that the Constitution could only be interpreted accurately by someone who did not believe in God. The accuser was just as biased as the accused. In this case, the accuser's bias against belief in God yielded an irrational conclusion. Such groundless hostility is itself defined as prejudice.

4.3 What is bigotry?

Outside of the word's indirect but common association with racial prejudice, the dictionary definition of a bigot includes one who holds rigidly to an idea. Again, holding to what you believe to be true is, by itself, not inherently bad. Even the simple act of one person believing another to be a bigot, and refusing to be convinced otherwise, is itself a prime example of bigotry.

4.4 What is intolerance?

Intolerance is another charge often leveled at Christians, usually by those who are themselves intolerant of Christian moral values. The bumper sticker "Hate is not a family value" suggests this; itself expressing intolerance towards an unnamed target audience, and coming from an apparently different set of family values.

Understand that intolerance, like bias, is not inherently bad. We are all intolerant of certain things. The real question is "Of what are you intolerant and why?"

As for the previously mentioned bumper sticker, hate, in proper context, can actually be an excellent family value. Murder, rape, kidnapping, and brutality are just four examples of many things that every family should hate and refuse to tolerate. Even the Bible itself exhorts, "Hate evil, love good;" (Amos 5:15a NIV).


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NEXT: PART TWO - Christians: biased...

See also:

Principles of God's judgment

Basic terminology: What is religion, worship, faith...

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Perhaps because Christians are perceived (rightly or wrongly) to constitute a majority, their beliefs and lifestyles are not as protected from public ridicule as are certain others.

This seeming unfairness is not too upsetting. It is quite easy to set the record straight on the typical accusations.

1. Welcome to the front.
2. What is bias?
3. What is bigotry?
4. What is intolerance?