Let me get this out of the way: I’m (depending on the day) some variety of agnostic. I’ve been more religious than I am now, and I’ve been a lot less religious than I am now.
This is a bit of a dangerous mix – I can easily take the point of view of someone who is religious (through my appreciation of Jesus Christ Superstar or pairing gun control and Holy Week) and just as easily criticize religious bigotry and the all-too-common lack of realization that there’s other people out there that Christians particularly seem to have (such as my experiences at a convention or the “have a blessed day” thing which annoys me to no end.)
Which brings me to this meme I ran across on Facebook:
And y’know, I totally believe that happened. The experiences of myself and those I care about mirror that sentiment. Tell someone you’re not a Christian (let alone an agnostic or atheist) and it’s pretty common to get all sorts of verbal abuse. This measured and kind response from a Christian to Gervais is what you’d hope to get, but again, is not very common. This is exactly the same sort of thing that I was talking about in “Where have all the Christians gone?”
But there’s a problem – and this is what sparked a heck of a discussion on Facebook.
I remember the early days of Twitter, and being a fan of Gervais. And I unfollowed him – and stopped being a fan of his not too long afterward. Because unlike Gervais, when someone I don’t know asks for prayers for the health of a sick loved one, I’m not going to break into their conversation and take that opportunity to make fun of their faith.
I repeatedly I saw him go after Christians who weren’t even talking to him and just lay into them, and then laugh about it.
He was being a troll.
So yeah, I’m not too surprised that Christians started laying into him. Not because he’s an atheist, but because he’s being a fucking troll.
I get the anger. I do. Being non-religious puts you in one of the most disliked (and distrusted) groups in America; and that’s awful.
And I completely agree with (and support) pointing out when Satanists act more Christian than Christians.
But for crying out loud, I have no sympathy for Gervais here. His whining now about how Christians are mean to him is like a kid who poked a bear with a stick a dozen times and is surprised it wants to eat him.
The guy who posted this meme said that his experiences mirrored those of Gervais’. He didn’t want to remove the attribution (or restate it himself) in order to properly attribute the originator of the thought.
And again, what Gervais describes is the experience of myself and many of those I care about.
But damn, wouldn’t it be a lot better to quote someone (anyone) who hadn’t provoked that response? To cite Gervais here is akin to citing David Brent about the onerous nature of sexual harassment lawsuits.
Surely, surely those of us who are non-religious can come up with a better person to quote than that troll.
I don’t know what the right solution is. Quote the problematic troll? Or take ownership of the idea and cast the problematic originator aside?
Or maybe it’s time to just sit down and praise Bob.