Have you ever felt that your whole society has a warped view of you?
“You’re entitled to your own opinions and beliefs.” “It’s a free country.” “You have a right to free speech.”
They’re phrases we hear all the time, and when it comes to opinions and lifestyles that are different to ours, we know the right thing to do is to be accepting and understanding of them. But as a Christian in an increasingly hostile world, where online conversations allow for instant, anonymous bullying with no identifiable consequences, what was once called ‘free speech’ has become what feels like a systematic battering of religion.
In almost any secular situation, I find that I’m allowed to speak my opinion – just as long as it’s also the opinion of the secular majority. In the online community especially, it has become extremely unpopular to believe in the existence of a god. Even more so the possibility of creation.
Here’s three basic worldviews and the reaction you’re likely to get if you reveal this belief online:
- If I believe there is no God, no after-life, no spiritual dimension; there is only the world man has discovered and it’s the cosmic equivalent of dropping some eggs and flour on the floor and coming back 3 billion years later and finding a cake, I’m warmly accepted as an intelligent, well-rounded individual with logical reasoning and supposedly share my views with the well-educated of the world.
- If I believe “there might be something out there bigger than me that I can’t understand”, the internet regards me as a dreamer, a naive buffoon who’ll learn what it’s really like soon enough – and throws in some belittling insults to help the natural transition along.
- But if I identify with a spiritual world view, where the world is not a mistake, its Creator lives and is good, and there is therefore a moral framework determined by His authority (which in turn means there is an ultimate truth and we are not free to decide what’s true based on our feelings), then I am a judgmental idiot with who blindly follows the boring religious practices of my parents, bullishly ignoring basic science and logic, and have never given the matter my thought for long enough to realise how ridiculous my belief is and turn away from my stupidity. The prescribed cure for this sort of sad predicament is full-blown online slander and ridicule.
And here’s my somewhat desperate response to this injustice.
I’ve been at the receiving end of this cruel correction – either personally or as collateral damage to a more generic religion-bashing comment – more times than I can count. Most recently a week ago when someone on a well-known global content sharing site referred to a typically Christian opinion as “not an opinion, it’s ignorance and stupidity”. I felt so angry and hurt by this arrogant rejection of an entire worldview that the words really hung over me, and when I woke up the next morning they were still fresh in my mind. That afternoon, I vented as I wrote this poetic plea for equality.
“That’s not an opinion, it’s ignorance and stupidity”
It’s like I’m not allowed to speak anything that isn’t a majority; ‘normality’
But what if ‘normal’ was atrocity, an act of immorality
Like murdering millions in the name of ‘purity’
Would I be strong enough to stand on my principles whole-heartedly
Or be too afraid of being an anomaly?
The fact is I feel targeted personally
For holding beliefs that don’t fit the carbon copy
It’s like we’re eradicating individuality
Silencing anyone who feels differently
By implanting mass opinions artificially
Propaganda is directed, retweeted and spread systematically
And to not conform is idiocy, bigotry, small-minded lunacy
“A hatred based on my own insecurity”
I’ve been called “indoctrinated”, “infected”, “brainwashed”, “an embarrassment to society”
And forbidden the chance to explain my viewpoint properly
I’m kept at a safe distance like a man with leprosy
Despised and disgusting to almost every community
It couldn’t possibly be that I have my own understanding of cosmology
With experience, evidence and the intelligence to conclude it logically
You preach tolerance but have no room for variety
You preach acceptance but give me no credibility
Just because your badge reads “Atheism” and mine reads “Christianity”
I’m not a brainless advocator of hatred and exclusivity
I’m just being me by believing what feels right to me
So please STOP discriminating based on poisoned partiality
Stop calling me a hypocrite and hear your own hypocrisy.
The response to this response overwhelmed and moved me.
Still frustrated that I felt so alone in a world with an anti-Christian agenda, I posted the poem on Facebook, and was extremely encouraged and comforted to find that so many of my friends – and even people I haven’t met – shared the post and told me how much they agreed with its sentiment. I was especially touched by all the non-Christian people who showed their support of it and even shared it to their own pages. I’ve never personally known so many people of different beliefs and worldviews come together and support me struggling with mine – it was a heart-warming experience.
I want to leave you with a word of encouragement if you relate to all the things I’ve said so far – this is a quote from C.S. Lewis to remind you that if you follow Jesus, you are following the one Truth in this world, and no matter how much he tries the Father of Lies will never defeat that Truth.
“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C.S. Lewis
Be strong and courageous, family of God, and with humility and love keep showing the world the forgiveness of the One who gave His life to give them countless second chances.
Christian Singer/Songwriter from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire