I just wanted to clarify my position on the cruelty of prayer.
I don’t think it’s the praying itself that bothers me. If you genuinely care about me and you consider prayer your means of asking your god to watch out for me and to let some good things come my way, go for it. If you see me struggling and you don’t know what else to do and you want to put some good vibes out there in the Universe for me, honestly, I appreciate it.
I regularly ask my ancestors to send good things to folks, like Kleinheider, who I’m sure wish sometimes that I didn’t exist and could give two shits about whether my ancestors existed, but I do that not only for his benefit in some woo-woo way, but also to remind myself that, if I’m going to criticise someone as often as I criticise Carter, I need to be doing it from a position that is open to his criticism in return, that, if I want him to take what I’m saying seriously, I need to seriously consider his perspective.
I think the problem comes, like I said, in the way that folks use prayer to bully people, to march through the world so sure of your rightness and your righteousness that, from the outside, it seems like you almost feel duty bound to impose your religion on the rest of us.
Listen, it’s fine if you believe that your religion is right and true. I would hope that you’d be firmly convinced of that if you’re going to devote your life to a worldview. But it is vile to run around imposing your worldview on others. And that goes for everything from saying things like “All religions are the same and they all point to there being just one god” (as if Christianity is the pinnacle and inevitable conclusion of history) to saying “I think you’re a bad person, therefore I’m going to pray for you” to people you disagree with.
It’s good that you feel like your god is always with you and always on your side, but, and I think I speak for a lot of people here, when you whip your god out like some kind of immutable eternal trump card that lets you be right in every situation?
You come across like a bully, an incredibly cruel bully.
Listen, you have my sympathy. Christianity is hard to do well. It requires checking your impulses and, in almost every case, doing the harder thing. When someone hurts you, it’s easy enough to lash back. It’s harder to turn the other cheek. When your enemies have plotted against you, give yourself over to them. The temptation to believe that you’ve done everything you can and now you’re right enough with the Lord that you can turn your attention to smugly passing judgment on others has got to be great.
And yet, where in the Bible is that allowed? Instead it’s always, always, it’s about giving yourself over to the transformative power of Christ.
Running around the world with your fingers pointed at others–“You’re wrong; you need to change; I’ll pray for you to stop being so evil”–completely misses the point of who Christ was talking to.
So, not only is that kind of behavior completely offensive to non-Christians, it ought to be offensive to Christians as well. Where in the Bible does Jesus say, “Hey, let’s ignore your behavior and instead go push those guys around?”