an open letter to intolerant Christians everywhere

These words are intended for what I hope is a minority of those who ascribe to a Christian faith, though it can easily apply to those of any religious faith who view their personal way of referencing the world as inherently better than those who do not follow an organized religious path.

To begin, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so I’ll state it like this. From the more than a few conversations I have had with people like you on this topic, when you state that I just “don’t know” the purity of divine truth, I am understanding your statement to mean:

That you personally believe there is one way of living your life, and that is centered in a faith which corresponds to your divine understanding, and that by doing so to the best of your ability and following the prescribed tenants your particular faith is founded upon, allows you to live as authentically “pure” as humans can get.

However, the corollary to that would suggest that by not doing those things or by living life in ways that do not reference your particular faith, then that is not as close to “pure” (whatever that is) as the path taken by the more devoutly faithful (you). The prescient point being, your faith allows little deviation, since it is understood by the majority of followers to be the one, the only, and the all encompassing literal truth.

First, it may not surprise you that I have several large problems with that belief system. One, it sets up the context as one that includes a more and a less *pure* (and we still really don’t have a clue as to what *pure* is). By virtue of defining the attributes of belief and understanding on a “one is better than than the other” scale, you then conveniently claim the moral and spiritual high ground, implying those that don’t understand faith have an inherently inferior approach to life, morality, values, spiritual awareness, what have you, since you are obviously equating pure with those things. Therefore *less pure*, is less of those things.

Secondly, when you glibly dismiss my rejection of divine understanding as “not knowing”, you are assuming that a lack of faith is based on simply not understanding its true nature. Thus, you imply one of two things:

  • an inability to understand
  • a refusal to understand

That implies people who don’t believe as you do are either slow, stupid, or petulant. As you no doubt are becoming aware, I am none of those things.

I imagine that you will say I am putting words in your mouth because you didn’t *intend* to say that. Well, intention doesn’t amount to anything meaningful in this context. I say that, because intention doesn’t nullify effect. Never the less, when religious people dismiss people who don’t hold an organized template of spirituality as their guiding life text, it is always with “They just don’t understand, haven’t found, haven’t been filled with” or any other way of saying that you get it and we don’t. And you know, that would be fine if it wasn’t done with the same moral qualifier every bloody time. That would be the “who is more pure” question left hanging in the wind.

It may sound like I am being harsh, but I am not. And I will tell you why. Whenever I reference the difference in my world view to that of someone who has found their answer through a divine path, it is simply as a difference in core motivation. A less verbose interpretation?

Whatever gets you through the fucking night!

So, when it comes to your belief system, it is my moral foundation and understanding of an ethical good that does not allow me to offer a diminishing qualifier, or suggest an implicit assumption of understanding vs ignorance, nor infer a qualitative difference in belief based on some obscure notion of “purity” (that we still haven’t defined). I do not do those things since that is the only fair response when I do not know, have never known, will never know, and have no desire to know, your absolute and all encompassing understanding of God, faith and “purity”.

I suppose my question is this:

If I am willing and able to offer you a respectful coexistence, underscored via the embrace of a different understanding, then why the fuck can’t you do the same?