I normally don’t, but some of us refer to Christians as liars and hypocrites. Many Christians refer to others (Muslims, Jews, skeptics, etc.) the same way. Few details or logical explanations are usually provided, but examples abound. For me, personal attacks define the difference between being anti-religious (about people) and being anti-religion (about dogma, creeds, rules, and policy).
I agree that religious populations are replete with deceit and scandal. Every sin has probably been committed by many members of every religion, often in the name of God. We’re human, but why might followers of Jesus be highlighted more than any other group as possessors or perpetrators of such failing attributes? I pondered this and did a bit of looking stuff up. But mostly I think I thunk it through. You judge.
There are almost 8 billion people on earth. Nearly 350 million of them live in the USA. Of those populations, 2.5 billion world-wide are Christians, or about 31.3%. In the United States, 213 million, or about 61 to 65% of the total American population claim to be of the Christian persuasion. I pulled those estimates from various internet sources and rounded up, but things change. According to various sources, while total populations are increasing, the percentages of religious believers are declining. That’s still a lot of liars and hypocrites.
At one time or another virtually everyone of us will tell a lie of some sort (the G. Washington myth notwithstanding). A good many people, if not all, will also behave in ways that do not conform with their personally claimed moral standards. That defines hypocrites (frauds, charlatans, and phonies). In my opinion, dishonesty is indiscriminately part of our human condition or nature regardless of race, creed (religion or none), sex, national origin, age, political affiliation, or shoe size. To deceive is unfortunately human. A gift from God or Satan’s tool?
I’ve heard it called, “telling an untruth.” But exactly what constitutes a lie? My dictionary says it’s making an untrue statement with intent to deceive, or making a misleading, false impression, or one that may, or may not, be believed by the speaker or writer (i.e., the liar).
I think one must intend to deceive to properly wear the liar moniker. I also think saying what one believes, even if it’s wrong, is not at the same level of lie as an intentionally deceptive one. Even small lies, like fibs, require knowing it’s not true to fit my definition. But is that good enough? Maybe not.
Ideally, something is either true, or it is not, yet gray areas abound. This is where a college course in logic or argumentation becomes useful. For example, let’s assume there is no god (easy enough for most readers of this blog). A true Christian believer comments here that, “there is a God, and all atheists are going to Hell.” That is what they believe: God is real and vengeful. I’m 99% convinced the Christian is incorrect, and I am willing to say so. That is what I believe. One of us must be wrong. One of us is telling an untruth. But is either of us also a liar?
Here’s the rub. While I have no interest in de-converting anyone, I would be happy to answer any questions. I would also be delighted if I contributed to someone walking away from their religious beliefs, all of which I consider to be bullshit. But I say “I don’t know” – a lot.
On the other hand, the Christian is bound to “spread the word” and to “bring sinners to God/Christ,” to evangelize and to proselytize. If it would serve the greater good and save someone’s soul, even to intentionally lie may be seen as a service to God, thus morally good. The greater good refers to the adage, the ends justify the means. They’re reluctant to say “I don’t know” because that could mean a doubting spirit, agnostic thinking, or religious ignorance.
One of us is believing and saying something that is not true. We both think it’s the other guy. Are we both justified as seeing the other as a liar? Either a god exists or not. Period, but that’s unprovable. Is one of us lying? Intent matters and we each think we are correct. Neither of us is attempting to deceive anyone, even if one is more aggressive in behavior and playing by different rules.
While I invoke intent in defining lies, I do not with hypocrisy. Voices from my childhood, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
When I completed teaching a class on The Problem of Evil, someone asked me how I reconciled what I had just taught with what I believed. I said that I didn’t, but I lied because I did. I struggled because what I professed to believe was not what I thought deep down. My interpretation of scripture and my beliefs were not what others thought they were. It all worked out, but it took years. What I said in the class was the truth as I saw it at the time. What I professed to believe was not. Enter a bit of cognitive dissonance. But was I a liar or hypocrite?
So yes, Christians are liars and hypocrites. So are all members of every religion and of none. Some of them are aware of it, but I suspect most are not. In my opinion, they are no more deceitful than most other groups, particularly other religious groups. I can’t change that. I can only change me. No matter what, I’ll never be totally correct or completely certain. I’ll remain forever skeptical.
I shall also try to remain civil and to understand our human nature. I wish everyone would.
One thought on “Are They (Christians) Lying Hypocrites?”
In some cases, lies are needed e.g. saving a girl and her family from the Nazis, at least for a little while. I find the lies are false claims made to benefit the claimaint in some way. Are they good or evil? hard to say but they are beneficial.
For many Christians, a false claim is made to benefit them, no one else. If they misrepresent Christianity, they can benefit. One of my favorite instances is when C.S. Lewis says not to tell a potential christian the truth about how contradictory and fragmented Christianity is. It gets him, and those Christians who agree with him now, the external validation they crave. They don’t care that they remove the ability to make an informed decision from someone. So, in this I find Christians far more damaging than most other humans.
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