James Edward Johnson

my thoughts from right to left

Deace gives Christians a bad name.

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I listen to both NPR and 1040 WHO. NPR is generally to my left and WHO is generally to my right. On my way home, I usually listen to NPR. But, occasionally, I turn to WHO. When I do, Steve Deace is commonly on the air. Such was the case this evening.

Almost every time I tune in to his show, Deace is railing against homosexuality. His language is overwrought with heavy-handed appeals to sectarian Christian values. He reminds me of those Christians who would confront me growing up. Back then, my understanding of God was simplistic and I affirmatively rejected God and Christianity. I was attacked as a non-believer by the Christians at school and so I responded with similar hostility.

One particularly unpleasant run-in happened when I was a sophomore at Urbandale High School in 1993. I gave a speech on tolerance towards homosexuals. The first question I got, in front of the teacher and the entire class was, “Are you a faggot?” The teacher tried to intervene in my defense, but I would have none of it. The last thing you want as a kid is to rely on a teacher to protect you. It makes you a mark for bullies. Instead I used my presence at the front of the class to humiliate the student who questioned me. I said something along the lines of, “Well, even if I were, you would have nothing to worry about. You aren’t that attractive, and it would be very easy to do better.”

My animus against Christians motivated me to study Catholicism (all my attackers were Protestant) and Judaism. I made sure I knew more about the history of Christianity than my Christian attackers. When I was confronted, I wouldn’t defend myself as much as I would humiliate them with their ignorance. Given that kids don’t learn much in confirmation and many of my attackers hadn’t even completed confirmation, humiliating them was easy. And when it came down to it, I was quick to call them hurtful names, usually in combination with a profanity or two, that insulted their inelligence.

Every time I hear Steve Deace, I am reminded of that punk kid in my speech class. I am a better person now, but he always reminds me of the spiteful person I once was. His homophobic rants remind me of the worst kind of Christian-based hatred I experienced growing up. I know better now, and most Christians are not hateful. But as a child growing up, it was much harder to distinguish between decent Christians and hateful ones. In another post, I will discuss more at length why Steve Deace is horribly wrong about homosexuality and gay marriage. For now, I want to share what I wrote to him:

Steve,

Listening to your show today, you reminded me why I am not a Christian. Your sectarian intolerance is downright appalling. Fortunately, I have met many decent Christians who have rehabilitated the borderline hateful view of Christianity and God I developed growing up. I was once a hard-core atheist. I am now a believing Jew in spite of Christians like you. It is only by learning that God is greater than what is offered by your narrow and hateful view, that my rehabilitation has been possible.

I was wondering, what do you think of Jews like me? I believe Jesus was at worst a myth and at best a Pharisee and a Rabbi who learned the teachings of the Rabbi Hillel and spread many of them to his followers. In any event, it is my belief that Adonai alone is God and that Adonai is One. Jesus is not God and nothing on earth can be God. I don’t think Christians are against God, I just think Christians are wrong about God. Most Christians are good people who have an equal share in the world to come.

I know that this is against your view of your bible. Based on what you have said on your show, I can only imagine that you see my faith as being “evil” because it is against your god, just as you see homosexuality as “evil” because it is against your god. I would be interested in your comments in this regard.

Sincerely,
James Eaves-Johnson

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Written by JamesEJ

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 at 11:29 pm

Posted in judaism

Tagged with ,

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