Trying Not To Be Offensive

A friend of mine serving in Afghanistan took a moment out of his busy schedule of killing Muslim infidels and burning the Qur’an (I joke — he’s actually part of the mission to rebuild Afghani infrastructure) to send me a thoughtful Ash Wednesday gift on Facebook.

This proceeded to spark a firestorm of comments from the eclectic group of friends I have. God-loving/fearing Christian friends found this to be offensive and an attack on their faith, while fellow non-religious friends saw it differently (go figure…).
What started this debate?  A Facebook friend and old high school classmate, posted a Youtube video his page (since removed) entitled “1 Question Atheists Have No Answer For.”  
Another friend, also a high school classmate, commented on this video extolling his strength in his belief and standing strong in the face of those that tear down his faith. Then she then commented on the picture above that this is a great example of the types of anti-Christian stuff she sees on Facebook.
Now I can see where Christians might get a bit perturbed seeing a picture of Zombie Jesus on Facebook – that clearly mocks at least a third of their gods (since Jesus is only a third of the holy trinity that makes a singular god – don’t ask…) – but god?  God is so amorphous!  It could be any god – granted giving up god for Lent could lead many to believe it’s the Catholic god, but that’s just projecting…
The real question lies in finding that line between self expression and offending others.  I try to never put up images or quotes that mock Christian faith, but I fail to see a problem with posting a picture like this:

I find this not only humorous, but an important way for religion (and the religious) to behave. I don’t see this as offensive – what I see as offensive are images like this:

Yep, the Fred Phelp’s God hates everyone signs.  While many Christians do their absolute best to distance themselves from Phelp’s views, the sad fact of the matter is that a slim majority of Christians, whether they vocalize it or not, believe that their god cannot condone marriage equality – because, in their biblical view, homosexuality is a mortal sin against their god.

The General Assembly in my state of Maryland just passed marriage equality legislation which our governor is expected to sign in days.  Unfortunately, the legislation will not go into effect until November, giving opponents of marriage equality (i.e., the god-fearing), the opportunity to gather signatures (roughly 55,000 are needed) to place the issue on the ballot in November – leaving individual prejudices to determine if a minority group can enjoy the same rights as the rest of the population of the state.

Personally, I have issues with the idea that the rights of a minority (or out-) group can be determined by the majority.  Either our rights as citizens of this country are guaranteed by the Constitution or they are not.  Leaving it to the prejudices of the majority, which will undoubtedly be fueled by Christian-interest group funding and negative advertising, doesn’t bode well for Maryland joining the current 7 states and the District of Columbia that recognize marriage equality for all.

So, going back from whence we came – this theology, this religion, this god – drives this view.  Just the latest example over the last few centuries of atrocities humans commit in his name.  Yet, to criticize such a deity, to find fault in his perfection, risks offending some of his followers.

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3 Responses to Trying Not To Be Offensive

  1. The Doubter says:

    It’s all Just words and pictures!I have the right to offend and to be offended.However my brain has the ability to control how I feel and I have a choice to implement this ability of self-control on how I act. If someone or group has voiced an opinion, however dis-agreeable to me, I have the choice to engage or not, I have the choice to ignore or not……I have a choice!!As long as people do not act out their opinions maliciously, abusively or cause actual harm, then it is their freedom of speech to do so.Idea and views do not kill………only action does!I always find it amusing that adults become so offended about all sorts of trivial things, we could all re-learn something by watching children play………children aren’t republicans or democrats, or socialists or capitalists, against or for gay rights…..they just want to happy and play together!!! What went wrong, how suddenly did we become intolerant adults where we define our identity by such arbitrary values as religions, status, what football team we support. As adults we ironically seem to suffer with an identity crisis……my values are better than yours??? Sorry I didn’t realise it was a competition!!!People also have the right not to take themselves too seriously and admit that we are all big kids that worry about stuff and should learn to play together nicely. 🙂

  2. Sean Asbury says:

    Doubter – I've come to conclusion that any view that's shared that doesn't conform to one's religious view, political view, musical or theatrical view, is ultimately offensive – if you don't like or agree with what I like, then you don't like me…Personally, I love differences – it makes us unique and this world less boring 🙂

  3. The doubter says:

    I concur. Accepting differences is the key, but for many people they just want certainty and differences un-settle them. Embracing doubt can open up a world of insight and potential learning. The religious, particularly the Christians, seem to suffer from self-inflicted fear, their programmed construct does not allow them to step beyond the limitations imposed by their beliefs, so uncertainty/new knowledge becomes their enemy.Having re-read my last comment, what I was trying to say, is that in this effort to define our individualism many ironically lose themselves within the bigger group dynamics. All of us seek comfort from finding our perceived tribe, but our tribe choice can be simply down to where you are born, so in effect external circumstances and probability have set up a ‘loaded deck’ so to speak. The religious fail to see how invariably they were just born into a religion environment and through fear of leaving stay put. This whole defining yourself becomes problematic for many and people fall into the trap of over defining themselves, from views, to status, to acceptance by others…………and underlying all this, is fear, which is shamelessly used by religions to control their flocks.Fashion is also an extension of defining the individual. Take tattoos, painting ourselves to look more aggressive or attract a partner has been around for millennia and yet toady in the so called progressive westernised countries there has been recent resurgence of people lining up to deface their bodies because the perception is it will make them look more interesting!!and this supposed to the 21st century. I am not trying to deride our culture or people who have tattoos, but going to a shop to have some of your outer layers of your dead skin drawn upon, depicting some apparently meaningful Chinese writing or an eagle on your back just seems absurd, apparently there are thousands of people with the Nike logo scribed on their bodies, the ultimate free advertising!!……nothing as strange as folk!!Personally I like a little uncertainty and not much offends me, only people that are not prepared to listen another viewpoint and acknowledge when their view may be flawed…………as my old work mentor used to say, “ears first, then brain, then mouth”!Told you I would be back!:)

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