Here Comes the Crazy…
I don’t really associate with Right Wing Christians in my daily life. There are certainly some that I know and work with, but the relationships are cordial and the conversations never revolve around religion or politics. I hear what they think and say from the news, newspapers, and other online sources. However, I had never really conversed with them. I decided to give it a go. I had no illusions of winning any arguments or converting them to atheism or anything like that. I just wanted to see what they really think. Some of you who follow me on Twitter may be wondering what the hell I have been doing on there this week. For those of you don’t follow me, let me explain.
I reached out to some very popular Right Wing Christians on Twitter. I have no idea who they are, but they all had at least 10k followers, some were over 20k. I figure if they have that many followers, people who think like they do, must really like what they have to say. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Before, you all think I am naïve, I expected strong disagreement, some name calling, some ignorance of facts, some bible thumping—that sort of stuff—and I got it. All of it and then some.
Here was how I started the conversation. I trolled (yes I know…I suck at life for doing it) these people until I found someone who was upset about the nativity thing in Santa Monica, CA. I then asked them why they were upset about it. They responded in the manner I describe below based only on a question and a look at my profile. After their first response, I then politely noted that we Atheists just don’t like the idea of government favoring Christianity on public grounds over all other religions or atheism & that doing so may violate the First Amendment. That is it. Two things struck me in these conversations. First was the immediate tone. Of the twenty people I tweeted that to, either they or one of their followers responded most often with something like, “FUCK YOU ATHEIST SCUM” most often followed by some variation of “STOP RUINING OUR COUNTRY”. And yes they were in all capital letters and yes FUCK YOU were the first two words. This I was not prepared for. I mean sure, I expected them not to like me, but who starts off a conversation with the words “FUCK YOU” (in caps)? The only answer I can come up with would emotionally unbalanced people.
These people are some seriously pissed off people, whether I like that or not is irrelevant, they are angry. They also seem to think that if they yell louder than anyone else they will emerge victorious. Most the tweets, and I am talking well over a hundred, were in at least partial if not all capital letters. Interesting.
What I find curious about this is that there can be no dialogue with this group of people. They won’t have it. Again, I was under no illusions that I would change hearts and minds, but thought perhaps a rational conversation would be possible. It wasn’t. They continuously told me I was stupid, dumb, a cunt, an idiot, a waste of oxygen, going to hell, a disciple of the devil, un-American, a communist, a socialist…that’s all I can remember, and those words were all in capital letters during the exchanges. What prompted these responses after the initial tweet? My simply asking questions about why they believe what they believe. No form of meaningful dialogue occurred except for two people, and one of those is not really meaningful, but the fellow was not as vitriolic. He just keeps reminding me I am a stupid idiot.
The second thing that struck in talking with these people was how sure they are that they are right. Between the caps lock name calling. I was told in no uncertain terms exactly why I was wrong about what I thought—in both religious and governmental matters. The interesting thing to note was that their arguments were terrible. None of them have even a basic understanding of our country’s history, nor of their religion’s history. They are not well versed in Constitutional Law or Christian apologetics or science. I hate to sound like them, I really do, but the only comparison I can make is that it was like arguing with a ninth or tenth grader. They know they are right and are blissfully unaware of the facts, or even what the real conversation should be about. They think they know everything, as I did at that age, but as we all know now, we knew very little.
In some ways, I got what I expected. However, I did not expect that much hate and that much ignorance. The people I talked with reach over 200k Twitter followers if you combine them all. This is a small sample to be sure, but I did not just cherry pick people I thought were nuts. This is very troubling to me as an American. Our country has much work that is needed, yet the people who support the extreme right, the Christian Right, and Tea Party are not even willing to engage in conversation. At least not with me. I think of the statements that FL Congressman Allan West made over his career, and how he was labeled a Tea Party darling, and it frightens me. Those are the kinds of things I encountered in my brief foray to the “other side”. Also, please bear in mind, for the purposes of this post, I was only referring to people that I had multiple tweets with. I lost count of the one and done tweeters who were all vitriol and never tweeted me back after that first time. These people were the followers of my original twenty. There were well over 50 one time insult tweets hurled my way.
How can we move forward with this type of attitude being so dominant and growing? I feel for the people on the Right who are rational. I completely understand why they have been drowned out by the very loud Far Right. The GOP needs to make some changes if our country is going to move forward in a productive manner—though I am not sure how that will happen. The Democrats do NOT have all of the best of ideas, the far Religious Right has none, and the moderate Right has no voice…great….
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