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Two Examples Of How Some Christians Give Christians A Bad Name (I’m Looking At You, Pat Robertson)

posted by Catherine Connors

This kind of thing? Is why I get uncomfortable re-embracing my Christian upbringing:

1) Pat Robertson on Haiti, which has just suffered a disaster of Lisbon earthquake proportions: Haitians are “cursed” because their
ancestors “swore a pact to the devil” to liberate themselves from the
French in 1804. “True story.”

– That’s right. CURSED. By GOD. Pat Robertson’s God is not my God.

2) Heidi Montag Pratt, avowed Christian who wanted to make a Christian music album, on something she decided to sing about: “Come eat my panties off of me / Do whatever you feel comes naturally.”

– Thump a bible one day, smut it up the next. If it gets you attention, that’s all that matters, because doesn’t God want it that way? Heidi Montag’s God is not my God.

And don’t even get me started on Brit Hume or Carrie Prejean, who hates the idea of gay marriage but thought that God wanted her to have breast implants and pose for semi-nude photos.

I know, I know, I know: these are not representative of Christians or Christianity. They are failures of Christianity, in their own ways – in the case of Robertson and Montag-Pratt, two very different ways – and I shouldn’t let their examples dissuade me from approaching Christianity with an open heart over the course of my spiritual journey.

But still. Identifying myself as being in community with the hateful Robertson and the vapid Montag? Not so compelling. I really need to look past this. How do faithful Christians – of any denomination – look past this kind of thing? You do look past it, right? Right?

Inquiring heart wants to know.



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maresi

posted January 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm


I have to remember that all people (whether they profess Christianity or not) are sinners, some of them more vocal and with a broad audience. And I have to thank God that he forgives even asshats like those, because it assures me that my sins are forgiven too. I don’t always understand how my God could forgive people like that, but I’ve chosen to make my peace with a lack of understanding.
It does spur me to clarify that these mistaken, gravely mistaken souls do not speak for me, a passionate Jesus follower. They have placed themselves in a separate category with their cruelty and hypocrisy and do not belong to my faith.



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Ariel

posted January 13, 2010 at 4:45 pm


I was raised devoutly Mormon(so VERY christian) but I don’t consider myself Christian anymore, but I do consider myself a follower of Christ’s teachings.
Cause Christ himself? Pretty awesome person. Pretty awesome message. And when I strip it down to just that? It works for me. It flows well with Buddhism..
If you have to “classify” me I’d say the closest thing that describes me would be Buddhist/Baha’i/Christian…I’ve just taken what felt right from all of those and left the rest behind.
I was raised devoutly Mormon(so VERY christian) but



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katie

posted January 13, 2010 at 4:51 pm


I think that origanized religion is to polarizing that is why I cannot find spirituality there. The Christians believe that a child rapest can go to heaven if he just asks for forgiviness on his death bed. But someone like my father who was a good man who passed a way a few years ago who may or may not have ask jesus as his saviour is in hell. I can’t believe that. this is why I find spirituality through other means. Metaphsical ideas of the bible (emmett fox) and churches such as unity church which study all forms of religion and trys to learn from spiritual people or something like that.
good luck



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duchessbelle

posted January 13, 2010 at 4:55 pm


Doesn’t every community we identify with though have examples of people that cast said community in a bad light? I’m a woman, in a heterosexual relationship, Catholic, a blogger, a omnivore, an Italian, a capitalist, a lover of Edward. There are examples of individuals/causes in all those groups who I actively disagree with but I still choose to consider myself part of all those respective communities because overall, accepting some things, notsomuch others, that’s what I mesh with.
For me, it seems like there could be/is fault and negativity everywhere, in everything, but I try to look at what’s at the heart of each community and align myself with the good.



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susan

posted January 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm


On the thing of Haiti being “cursed,” you need to get the bigger story. I haven’t read Robertson’s comments, but I assume he referred to what is pretty widely known–that a past leader of Haiti who was involved in the occult dedicated the nation to Satan. Therefore, Haiti is not cursed by God, and I doubt that’s what Robertson implied. God wants all of Haiti to know and worship Him. Instead, the nation gave itself to Satan. When a person or a nation chooses to belong to ultimate evil, then evil things are going to happen to that person or nation. Satan is kind to no one, including those who choose him.



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carrien (she laughs at the days)

posted January 13, 2010 at 5:00 pm


We just say over and over again exactly what you just said, “That’s not who my God is.”
I honestly wonder if any of those people even know my God, and I lean towards not. You may or may not remember that bit in the gospels where Jesus says, “[paraphrase] Many will come to me and say, look at what we did in your name and I’ll say, I never knew you. Those who know me listen to my words and obey.”
The people who know the God I know don’t get much press, they are too busy doing good to be newsworthy.
Like Katie a 21 year old in Uganda feeding 300 kids every week and adopting 13 girls on her own.
Or my friends Jessie and Levi who left their life in Sacramento and moved to Ethiopia to take care of babies who would have been otherwise killed because their tribes believed they were cursed.
Or the founders of the Not For Sale Campaign
OR most of the orphanages around the world.
I remind myself that the reason, historically, that western people today think that children should be cared for and that poverty is wrong is because of the example of early Christians who scoured the garbage dumps of Rome to rescue abandoned rejected children and raise them as their own. This whole idea that all of us bear the image of God made all of us equally valuable. It was people of faith who contributed to the end of slavery, to women’s sufferage, to most social movements of the past centuries.
There have always been those who give faith lip service and act decidedly in opposition to it’s tenants. And those who know who their God really is, just do our best to ignore those people and continue to do the work at hand, because that’s what really matters.



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Babybloomr

posted January 13, 2010 at 5:11 pm


I have spent my entire adult life in the “Christian music business”– which on the one hand, could be considered an oxymoron any way you want to scramble those words and on the OTHER hand, has allowed me to be a part of a community that contains many people of faith that I truly love and respect. I have been given countless opportunities to become cynical. I have been horribly embarrassed by the dumb-ass antics of so-called leaders of the church. Because I call myself a Christian, I am sometimes automatically lumped in with haters who try to tack the name of Jesus onto their own personal prejudices. Also? People always immediately assume I am a Republican, which proves to be disappointing for everyone involved!
Sometimes, honestly, I would have loved to walk away from the whole thing.
But there is something in me that I cannot deny, that is intrinsically a part of who I am down to the marrow of my bones: I believe in God. It has nothing to do with the asshats, and everything to do with the Creator. On a good day, that belief allows me to show compassion and rise above my cynicism. On a day like today, I just want to kick Pat Robertson in the weiner.
I guess I am saying that I can’t ever really ‘look past’ the horrendous things that are done in the name of God, so I try really hard to look somewhere else. Like up. Or even maybe in– that usually keeps me busy until the weiner-kicking desire passes.



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Jessica

posted January 13, 2010 at 5:21 pm


It saddens me that when I identify myself as a Christian, this is what you (and so many in the general public) think of. The reality is that we’re all imperfect, some more obviously than others, and we’re all struggling with something. What gives me hope is the perfection of my God, who gave everything to save me from myself. Rather than plugging a religion, I focus on the personal relationship I have with Jesus Christ.



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Amy

posted January 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm


Like maresi said, we are all sinners to one extent or another. And like duchessbelle said, there will always be people in your “camp” so to speak who do not represent your own views. This can be a very sad and frustrating thing. You didn’t even mention Fred Phelps! Or bishops who covered up for molester priests! Or preachers who promise miraculous healings if you’ll just send them $1,000!
The thing is, it is not in THOSE PEOPLE that I have placed my faith. So I have to have confidence in my convictions and confidence in God, who is strong enough to endure mockery and ridicule and the damage that hucksters and sinners (including me) can do.
(All that being said, I am a bit baffled by why people think what Brit Hume said was so terrible. I’m not saying I’m a fan of his – truth be told, I have never watched him before. I actually think a lot of what goes on on these “news” channels amount to nothing more than gossip, which the Bible condemns pretty harshly. So I am not defending the context of his message. But GIVEN the culture of these cable channels, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I don’t think people would object to anyone saying that Tiger needs to seek some kind of redemption. And I don’t think anyone would even object to the suggestion that he might need therapy. So why is it bad for a Christian to give his personal opinion that the best starting place for redemption and healing is in fact the Christian faith?! I really like Ross Douthat’s recent column on this in the NYT. Why has it gotten to the point that a Christian cannot publicly urge anyone else to become a Christian, even though the Bible tells us we should?)



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Karen

posted January 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm


Look past it? No, I guess I don’t. I just look at it & shake my head in shame. I end up apologizing to anyone who will listen so I can say “Sorry, we aren’t all like that…I don’t endorse that & the probably don’t endorse me either.” I came back from the brink of running away from it all in 2004 when I heard a guy, a Christian minister, preacher on the PBS show with Charlie Rose & he had a book out & was insisting that Christianity was on the wrong track trying to get power over culture (Right wing politics/ Take-over of entertainment/news industry) because Jesus was all about putting his power under people to serve them, to help them, not to get them to put him on a throne. I was a sleepless new mother with a nursing baby. I had dosed on the sofa and physically & spiritually woke up to the sound of this voice reminding me of who I knew Jesus was. As if being post-partum were not enough, I balled my eyes out that night & decided to still call myself a christian, some one who follows Christ, but not necessarily someone who follows big name Christians. It was a tremendous relief to separate all that out. I still hang my head in shame sometimes, but at least I know what I’m aiming it & what I think – at least – has almost nothing to do with the work of God here on earth, which is serving people, being generous, taking care of the poor, listening to others needs and praying for them. That minister’s name was Greg Boyd – just to give the proper reference – and his book is called The Myth of the Christian Nation.



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HaitianNOTzoe

posted January 13, 2010 at 6:12 pm


“susan
January 13, 2010 4:57 PM
On the thing of Haiti being “cursed,” you need to get the bigger story. I haven’t read Robertson’s comments, but I assume he referred to what is pretty widely known–that a past leader of Haiti who was involved in the occult dedicated the nation to Satan. Therefore, Haiti is not cursed by God, and I doubt that’s what Robertson implied. God wants all of Haiti to know and worship Him. Instead, the nation gave itself to Satan. When a person or a nation chooses to belong to ultimate evil, then evil things are going to happen to that person or nation. Satan is kind to no one, including those who choose him.”
Susan, you and Robertson have no idea what you are talking about. Besides the fact that there are many devout Christians among Haitians, there was no ceremony where a leader dedicated Haiti to ultimate evil; that is a fiction passed down by those who identify with the brutal people who the Haitians defeated. At Bois-Caiman the ancestors rejected the evil who called the slavemasters and their supporters to commit crimes, but no one dedicated the nation to ultimate evil. Your comments make you appear as if you would have identified more with ultimate evil (provided it was an angel of light that wore the name “Christian”) than people struggling for freedom and rescue from the power of evil men. It is apparent from his comments (and the lack of compassion reflected in their timing), that whatever evil thing Pat Robertson worship is not worth knowing.



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bea

posted January 13, 2010 at 7:34 pm


This post reminds me in some ways of the discussion that’s been going on at Sweet/Salty’s place about feminism. Probably all of us can recall experiences (and people) that have made us feel alienated from feminism – and we can easily think of ways in which feminism is distorted into something we’d want to distance ourselves from. But I’ve always felt that it’s important to continue to identify myself as a feminist nonetheless, because the feminism I know is more real and important than a few nutbars or distorted media messages. I feel exactly the same way about Christianity.



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Saisquoi

posted January 13, 2010 at 8:49 pm


In all honesty, it took me a very long time to be able to publicly identify myself as a Christian. Even going to church every Sunday. Why? Because I was SCARED TO DEATH that people would equate me with Pat Robertson and his ilk. So, I hid that part of myself like some dirty little secret because I didn’t want my friends to think I was a Bible-thumping loon.
Then I realized, the people I went to church with, the other Christians in my community, were people who I WANTED to be associated with. They were good people who were trying their damnedest to live as Jesus would have lived. They were not Pat Robertson, and in fact, he would likely be disgusted with the lot of us (we are Episcopalians from NH).
I wonder if the question isn’t whether or not Pat Robertson and I have the same God, but what God would think of how our faith impacts the way in which we live our lives and how we behave around the other children of God. It’s funny–ostensibly, we’re reading the same Bible (more or less), coming from the same or similar basic traditions, but our translation and use of that information is SO VERY DIFFERENT. Maybe the question is how are you going to use that information–to build up or break down the People of God?



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ruster

posted January 13, 2010 at 10:05 pm


while i understand your questioning of associations, i think looking past them is fairly simple, but perhaps not easy (depending on who you are and what’s going on in your life at a particular time.)
1. Always go to the source. see what Jesus said and did and use that as your Standard. if you do that, you will understand what is true and what isn’t. it seems that you are a bit embarrassed that someone may associate or misrepresent you in a way that is false. if you use Christ as your example, someone who is so pure and true, then you have nothing to be embarrassed about.
your examples of the two people being “hateful” and “vapid” are not failings of Christianity or Christ, but of those two people. or it is a failing of your own view-points depending on the situation. anyone can say or do something that is not so good regardless of their belief system. Stick with Christ, not Heidi Montag.
we may agree on Christ, but have large disagreements about politics or other things.
2. if my first suggestion fails, i would ask this question.
is there any spiritual or political belief system, any -ism (feminism, liberalism, conservatism, atheism, Buddhism, Islam, etc.) that doesn’t have someone who does or says something that makes you wince really hard, or make you think “gosh, how could anyone act like that and believe something like that.” have there not been wars in the name of peace, killing in the name of unity, etc?
in example number one, Christ holds up really well. in example number two, Christ holds up really well even though people usually don’t.
i hope that helps.



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Nobody

posted January 14, 2010 at 11:33 am


Pat is an easy target. But before you judge him perhaps you ought to know that the whole time he was making these comments they had the number on their screen for their viewers to give to their humanitarian relief organization Operation Blessing. OB has already been at work in Haiti long before the earthquake.
Operation Blessing has touched the lives of more than 209.3 million people in 105 countries and all 50 states, providing goods and services valued at more than $1.7 billion. So, once you have surpassed that, then you will be in a better place to judge Pat Robertson. In the meantime, let’s do what Pat is doing and bless the poor people of Haiti.



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C

posted January 14, 2010 at 1:14 pm


I think you have to look past them, because of who Christ is/was. He came here to set an example for the world, knowing that people would misconstrue and do what they wanted, just as they were doing it beforehand and still do it.
I have more of an issue when people twist what the Bible says than when they are poor representatives of what it means to be Christian, because by the latter standard, we all are people who have to be “looked past” from time to time. However, if someone is misconstruing the word of God, I think we need to correct that. But I can’t really tell someone else that God did not tell them what they say He told them, or that their interpretation is incorrect. We all have our own experiences with God and God speaks to us in different ways, so all I can do is let others know what the Bible says and let them know that I don’t agree with a particular view. Our job is to speak the truth whenever we can.



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Jo

posted January 14, 2010 at 1:44 pm


I love the discussion going on here and I agree with many of the above comments. For every one “Christian” using their faith to say something stupid, I know at least twenty Christians doing amazing things, helping people, and doing much more than just taking up space on this planet (unfortunately, they don’t get the press for it). Christians and churches do pull together to help others and not just to preach at them, and that is how I get past the shame of associating myself with the embarrassing and offensive acts that are performed under God’s name. An incredible time of my life was when my childhood church pulled their funds to help families escape the Rwandan genocide. They were helped to start new lives, new jobs, new schools at a time when our own President wasn’t acknowledging the horror happening there. Now the same church is pulling together to help Haiti.
Instead of focusing on Pat Robertson, I focus on the Christians I know who I aspire to be like. They are the ones who have always been there for me. On a personal note, when I went through a very bad patch in my life, it was the church and my Christian friends that listened to me, loved me and stayed constant, while my friends without faith tended to judge me and talk behind my back. It was completely the opposite of what I expected.
I guess, above everything and like the others said, there are always people of every group that you wouldn’t want to associate with yourself. Just be you and no one will think any less (plus that old adage “and if they do, they aren’t worth it”). All the best.



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Robert Morwell

posted January 14, 2010 at 5:04 pm


The maddening thing about Robertson and his dazzlingly cruel and moronic preachments is that the guy garners attention with them.
Meanwhile, literally tens of thousands of gentle, compassionate Christians are already engaged in massive efforts to bring aid to the suffering Haitian people and long after the media’s gnat-like attention span has led it to move to the next splashy disaster or other shiney object, they will still be doing the hard and gritty work of rebuilding a broken and battered nation.
I live in a community of 40,000 people. There were two churches, one Protestant, one Catholic, that were planning to send mission teams to help bring relief and assistance to Haiti just this week. The disaster has temporarily derailed their plans, but I am sure they are laboring to help in some new way.
They were going before Haiti got everyone’s attention. That was somewhere between 20-30 people from the churches of this one town alone…before the quake. But, that lunatic Robertson gets the attention and these heroic people and countless thousands others lile them, go largely unnoticed, because they don’t spend millions on TV time to ballyhoo themselves and the media largely ignores their everyday heroism, kindness and sacrifice.



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Angela

posted January 14, 2010 at 8:13 pm


My husband and I had a long conversation about Pat Robertson last night.
The conclusion? Our God, our wonderful, amazing loving God, is going to look at us one day and say, “You tried, but you got it wrong”. Because we are messed up, self serving sinners, but we’re trying. Well, most of us are trying. Pat Robertson? Well, to me, he’s an asshat. But after his comments yesterday as a well known Christian, he sure as heck makes me embarassed to associate myself with him. Thank goodness God is going to judge him for his comments. Going to church and being all perfect and churchy one day a week does not a Christian make. Spreading the word about disaster (not matter where the country, or what the faith of that country is) is what makes a Christian. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t spend a whole heck of a lot of time hanging out in Synagogues. He spent most of his time on the streets ministering to prostitues, the heathen that was condemed by his time by the church leaders. I think we truly need to put “what would Jesus do” into action at a time like this. And the answer is: send love and help.



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Elizabeth (@claritychaos)

posted January 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm


Catherine, instead of blathering on myself, I’m going to give you the link to my friend Heather, of The Extraordinary Ordinary, who wrote on this topic yesterday. I think it would be worth the read.
http://theextraordinaryordinary.blogspot.com/2010/01/bumper-stickers.html
Also, I had tweeted you about some books/authors. I can’t remember if I ever wrote them in your comments or not, so here they are -
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Letters from a Skeptic by Gregory Boyd
I haven’t read either one in several years, but they are written intelligently from what I remember. Best to you.



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Your Name

posted January 15, 2010 at 6:23 am


Your railing against Pat Robertson reveals the fact that you are a text book example of a raging liberal neoevangelical! You havn’t the slightest bit of biblical/spiritual knowledge necessary to comprehend the nature and attributes of God. You do not beleive that the Bible is the authentic, reliable, trustworthy and true Word of God. You have taken a virtual pen-knife to your Bible and removed all the “negative” Bible verses. Your version of God is actually a false image that you have concieved of in your head that bears a striking resemblence to the false god known as CUPID. You have revealed that you have more in common with Mahatmah Gandhi and his modified version of the Hindu practice of Ahimsa than you do with that great preacher of righteousness John Wesley who wrote and preached a message on the MORAL CAUSE and CURE of EATHQUAKES way back in 1750 which you would do well to read. The God of the Bible is not finished with you yet and I am sure that you are destined to encounter Him in the personal earthquake that shall shatter your neoevangelical disposition in the not to distant futrure.



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Karen

posted January 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm


Christ — the person whom all of us who call themselves Christians profess to emulate — ate meals with prostitutes and tax collectors. Two things of note here — first, in the Jewish culture of that time, eating a meal with someone was to allow them into the very center of your social circle, one step away from being part of your family. Second — tax collectors were one of the very most reviled and despised of all occupations — on par with traitors. And notice that the Bible does not say that these were “former tax collectors” and “reformed prostitutes.” They were still doing it.
The people who came first to His birth were shepherds. Also, at that time, among the most reviled and despised of social classes.
And the people whom Christ rejected? The pharisees. The top of the top of social classes in their world.
In my opinion, Pat Robertson is a pharisee. Just because I am a Christian, does not mean I identify with him. Nor does it mean that I don’t think my children should be taught scientific theories like evolution (but that’s for another post).
And “As for me and my house, I will serve the Lord.” My large donation went to help the people of Haiti this morning.



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StacyG

posted January 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm


Yes, these are apalling situations. Pat Robertson especially makes me sick. However, being a Christian does not make you perfect. Everyone sins. It is the sin that sets us apart from God. If you ever find a person out there who claims to be perfect or that they are the perfect chrisitan, please run in the other direction.



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Typical

posted January 20, 2010 at 1:04 pm


This is not unexpected or surprising from you. Feminism is what it is to each individual, motherhood and parenting and childbirth and breastfeeding are all sacred, intensely personal and private situations that nobody is allowed to question (unless it’s a ”friend” of yours being purposefully unkind or making ill accepted ”jokes” at the expense of others, then it’s ALL GOOD and you will post about it ad nauseum). But you have no issue with saying Carrie can’t be both Christian and have implants or differing opinions on gay marriage or semi-nude photos without you deeming her faith insincere. As if that is your call to make about her or anyone else. Your journey to faith is going to be very, very long if you continue to take rest stops to judge the faith of others. Nobody, Christian or otherwise is perfect. But allowing yourself to, as usual, sit in judgment and condescend isn’t productive for anyone, most of all you.



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Della

posted January 26, 2010 at 2:10 pm


I cope by knowing that I personally do things that I believe are wrong, against my beliefs, and that they don’t mean those beliefs are not strongly held, not genuine.
If you put my name in there, on your list of Christians, I know we could come up with a pretty decent list of behaviors of mine that mean I’m not, well, you know…. Jesus.
If I can feel as strongly as I do, but still act this way – and some days hate myself for it, but some days not care so much – if I can be a bad example of what I think I should be, then the shock is not so extreme when I see others being a bad version of what I think they should be. Regardless of what they think they should be.
A lot of people seem to think that you have to get perfected in order to then be a Christian. God doesn’t require that. Then, we’re surprised when the Christians aren’t perfect.
Although I hate the vengeful, judgmental way others have said it, it strikes me that you would do better to rest your faith on God, on Jesus, than on others, whose beliefs and behaviors are filtered through themselves. Would you find it appropriate for someone to make their religious decisions based on your behavior, your statements, or even your internal beliefs [the kind that we can only imperfectly express to others]?
If you need some more reading material, I urge you to check out some things by Philip Yancey, particularly “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”.



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lusGuirediems

posted March 3, 2011 at 4:38 pm


Hello. And Bye.



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cjmybad

posted June 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm


I agree with you completely about Bad Christians giving Christianity a bad name. We were hurt by 2 Christians who we trusted, they decieved us by lieing, cheating and stealing from us. We almost lost our business, our home, our marriage and our family because of their unChrist like behavior. I prayed and prayed and prayed – finally for my health and so we didn’ loose everything, I decided to give them exactly what they wanted and what they set out to do.
They look so sweet and innocent singing in the church choir but we know the truth and they can ask for forgiveness and think ‘it’s been forgiven, it never really happened’
Bad Christian behavior is what is turning people away from church and religion. We are perfect examples of that.



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