Rev. Billy Graham, whose team still puts out a syndicated religious advice column, got a question this week that required a simple answer:
The kindest person I know is my atheist friend who has no use for God. On the other hand, some of the most difficult and unpleasant people I know say they are Christians. How do you explain this?
That’s easy. Morality and religion aren’t synonymous. There are good atheists and bad Christians. Just try hard not to be a dick and the world will become a better place.
That’s… not how Graham responded.
… I do know this: your friend isn’t this way because of her atheism, but in spite of it. A person who doesn’t believe in God has little reason to behave sacrificially toward others (although it may make them feel good inside if they are kind).
I also know this: If your friend ever opens her heart and life to Jesus Christ, she’ll become an even kinder and more loving person than she is right now.
That’s not true. You know how I know that? Because the original letter talks about a Christian who’s difficult and unpleasant. Turning to Jesus doesn’t make good people better. In plenty of cases, it makes annoying people even more insufferable.
I’ll take the kindness of someone who isn’t doing it for an eternal reward over someone who’s generous in order to please God any day.
Graham’s response is also foolish because he suggests the only reason people like him are kind is because God’s forcing them to be that way. (Also, if his son Franklin is supposed to be a walking, talking example of that kindness, it’d be news to a lot of LGBT people whose lives have been ruined because of his rhetoric and influence.)
No one needs God to be good. If you do, there are bigger issues you need to resolve.
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