(Image courtesy of xPandaPopx)
I came across the following line while reading a fellow blogger's most recent post:
"I wish more religious people would take time to realize this, especially when they talk about how atheists are so disrespectful of religion."
This is exactly why I often bring up the potential dangers of the black/white mindset which Christianity is based upon and how it can be detrimental to other areas of thinking. Religion aside, it is true that anyone with a brain (literally) is at risk of projecting their own bias onto others. A catty woman, for example, may translate the timid woman's glance as a threat, ("Psh, don't be thinking you're better than me, biotch!") Perhaps the timid woman was merely attracted and wanting a peak at that ass? (guilty! >.<) This is why it's important to get in the habit of thinking outside of oneself. Impossible to do perfectly of course, but far better to make honest attempts than to settle only for the thoughts your complexes confine you to. Religion can perpetuate the problem of complexes determining what is so by excusing or even encouraging them.
Christianity, at its core, serves to separate people into two categories: sinner and saved. This perpetuates the natural human tendency to pit oneself above another and creates the guilt complex in those with a lesser desire for superiority by forcing such a mindset where it doesn't fit.
While it's true that, say, Slightly Superior Sven* is likely to struggle with a superiority complex throughout his life whether he is an Atheist or a Christian, at least with an atheistic mindset he is not chained by the soul to a particular view which excuses the superiority complex and encourages the segregation of satan's tools and children God. As an Atheist, especially if his motive for becoming such was a result of skepticism, Sven is more likely to be in the habit of questioning (or at least of thinking freely) where as Christians tend to be stuck in the pattern of thinking with their Bibles. A mind, like any other muscle, that is not exercised becomes weak.
Even if a Christian is an expert at compartmentalizing, and thus critically thinking about many aspects of life that he deems separate from religion, it is still true that he cannot apply it to Christianity if it counters a known biblical claim. So, many aspects of the black/white mentality persist. They must - or else everyone would find reason to abandon the belief system, as the core would begin to crumble!
I once knew a kindhearted Christian woman who appeared on the surface to be completely nonjudgmental. Likely, because her personality did not allow for it. She was abused as a child, depressed as a teen, and as a believer, she was fixated on God's love. At first I thought, "finally, a Christian who seems a little open-minded and understanding." Then, I participated in some religious debate with her. It was kind of a sad thing to experience because she seemed so uncomfortable admitting that those who disagree are hell bound. That wasn't the aspect of her religion that she personally latched onto. It's like, it didn't set well, but she had to accept it because it was a part of the deal. I can relate -- but I eventually did explore that doubt and broke free.
So, can a devout Christian - either kind and gentle, slightly superior, or somewhere in between - understand that they too are being disrespectful toward the Atheist? I'm honestly not sure. It seems to me that they can make small attempts. They can ignore that homosexuality is a sin, for example, if their son/daughter happens to be one in favor of saving the relationship. They can even dismiss the part of the bible that says so as 'inapplicable to the current times'. As for a core aspect of Christianity - that to be saved, you need Jesus and that the unsaved are doomed - how can you ignore that or deem it inapplicable while remaining Christian? I'm not sure they are capable of seeing their brand of discrimination as wrong. Maybe on some level, but not one that they are free to question.
*Sven just sounds like a snooty guy to me -- but I'm sure you Svens of the world are just dandy in actuality!! ^_-