“I’ve decided that I am not religious. I am not a Christian. Please don’t try to convince me otherwise.”
The young woman who wrote that rejection of religion on social media was being brave. She knew her friends and family would see it. Maybe she was just rejecting organized religion; for lots of people faith and the organized church might as well be the same thing. I don’t know her well enough to be sure, and really, that’s beside the point.
With a sense of horrified fascination I read down the list of comments. Dozens of Christians coming out of the woodwork to assure this young lady that Christianity wasn’t really like that, not at all. That if she just saw what they saw, then they’d realize that their religion wasn’t all that bad, really.
And what they said reminded me of two things that happened in my life.
I remembered skipping pro-life Sundays (now often rebranded as “Respect Life Sundays”) when I was a practicing Catholic. The priest’s virulent, shaming, and on one occasion, almost violent sermons drove me and my (now ex-) wife away. The last one I remember going to had a priest comparing healthcare providers to Nazis.
Privately, other members of the parish would share our sentiments. But only privately.
Second, I remembered when last week, when a white male walked into the breakroom. I (also a white male) was the only other person there, and the news was on.
“Oh,” he said, “they’re finally saying something nice about Trump?” He gave me a conspiratorial look. “About time, am I right?”
His assumption – that the other white guy in the breakroom must be a Trump supporter – was horribly wrong.
But instead of being silent, or meekly agreeing, I disagreed. Politely, with facts, but there was no mistake about my position.
He, rather abashedly, left the breakroom.
Which brings us back to the commenters on that young woman’s post… and every other Christian out there saying that Christianity “isn’t really like that”?
Where were they before this young woman – and so many others – decided to leave the church? Where are they when the bigotry and hatred spews forth from the pulpit? Where are they when pastors and preachers ignore the compassion of Christ and advance their own agenda instead? Where were they when millions are spent on megachurches and private jets and other luxuries instead of those who are suffering?
They were silent.
And by being silent, their actions showed that they agreed.
Silence is complicity.
Silence is assent.