What should Christians do when some high-profile leader says or does something awful?
We know what most of them tend to do: Nothing. Because silence is easier than saying something critical about someone within your broader religious circles. It’s exactly the sort of approach that allows those awful actions to continue and thrive.
I like being part of a skeptical community because I know no one is safe from criticism. If Richard Dawkins or Bill Maher says something dumb, we’ll join the chorus in calling them out on it. That’s not to say every criticism is fair, only that no one is immune.
Samuel James, the Communications Specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, doesn’t feel the same way, and he has some suggestions for people of faith on what to do when a Christian does something embarrassing:
Don’t apologize for it.
Don’t publicize how you’re not like that.
Don’t ever side with critics outside the church.
Don’t start a website where you call out your own people.
Don’t leave comments anywhere challenging that person.
Basically, let the bullshit stand because Christians must be united no matter what.
Let’s call it the “Pat Robertson Can Say Whatever He Wants and I Promise to Keep My Mouth Shut” Rule.
When a fellow Christian embarrasses you and the Church:
2) Don’t use the person’s error as leverage to draw attention to how not like that you are.
4) Don’t have the same kind of response as those who scoff at Christ and the church. You might agree with Christianity’s critics that ______ was a horrible thing to say, but you most certainly don’t agree with them about why (an offfense against the truth and/or those made in God’s image) or how to make things right (repent and seek Gospel reconciliation).
6) Don’t ever, ever, ever, EVER even passively, suggestively, or indirectly legitimize or rationalize bitterness and suspicion towards the church. If someone says to you, “This is why I don’t go to church,” they might think they’re telling the truth, but they’re not. They don’t love the church because they don’t love Jesus. Saying, “Yes, you have a point, church can be so frustrating” feels like empathy, but it’s not. It’s self-preserveration at the cost of slandering Christ’s body.
7) Don’t start a “watchdog blog.” Seriously, don’t ever.
Seriously, you guys. Don’t ever. I can’t even.
How’s that for a passive-aggressive slam against progressive Christians who have the courage to call out fellow Christians who use their faith to elevate themselves above everyone else, discriminate against LGBT individuals, and acts as experts when they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about?
Did I mention he works for a group with the word “Ethics” in its name?
I guess the advice makes sense coming from someone who works at the ERLC, since the Southern Baptist organization has been against marriage equality, women’s rights, proper science education, and comprehensive sex education.
It’s hardly surprising that a group that deserves to be criticized would ask everyone else to stop being so critical.
It’s even less surprising that comments on his site are turned off. Because the easiest way to avoid well-deserved criticism is to put your fingers in your ears and shut out the noise.
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