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Christian Bashing

A Reader recently wrote:

I am thankful for your insights into Buddhism. The faith gives me many important insights in creating “win-win” relationships with others. Still, one characteristic about your podcast bothers me.

Many of your listener comments insult the Christian faith or those who practice it. While it would be unfair for me to expect you to leave out part of what they sent in, I would be delighted to hear you encourage your listeners to work through their hard feelings toward Christians and Christianity. I recognize growing up in a household where not being of a faith the family insists the young follow would not be easy. Still, empathy for Christian concerns about Buddhists or whomever going to hell, for example, is a step on the path towards peace.

My Response:

You’re absolutely right about the anti-Christian sentiment of some of the commenters. Phrases like “breaking the chains…” and so forth are, if not offensive, at least heavily prejudiced. There was one letter that was so hostile that I had to heavily edit the thing to make it usable here.

I personally haven’t intentionally been hostile, but I’m probably not innocent either. I end up getting three or four ‚ÄúYou’re going to Hell for this!‚Äù emails every week; I don’t get them in my personal or business email accounts, only the one for THIS site. Christians mean well, most of them at least, but sometimes their zeal works against them and builds resentment and ill will. It’s hard not to let that get to you sometimes.

I think that being in such a minority (Buddhists in America) tends to encourage us to build up defensive barriers and an “us versus them” attitude in many cases. And it is not unusual to see actual hostility aimed from Christians towards anything different. That sounds like a real test of Buddhist compassion and loving-kindness, right?

I was one of ‚Äúthem‚Äù for many years, and I didn’t feel like a bad guy back then; somehow I suspect they don’t feel like the villains either. Nowadays, I look back and wonder, ‚Äúwhat was I thinking!‚Äù with incredulity. Here in the West, we’ve been exposed to Christianity pretty heavily all our lives, even if we weren’t raised with it. Those of us who adopted Buddhism later in life do tend to see it as an ‚Äúescape.‚Äù But I also realize that it all made sense to me back then, and Christians (for the most part) really do have your best interests in mind. Be patient and forgiving with them.

Also be aware that if you present your case carefully, you can still win over Christians, at least the ones who are open to listening. There are many Christians, priests and pastors included, who meditate and agree with the basic tenets of Buddhism and even teach meditation to their congregations. They don’t have to give up Jesus or the Bible in order to benefit from the teachings of Buddha; we could learn a few things from the words of Jesus too‚Äîgood advice is always good advice, regardless of what people have added over the centuries. In many cases, if you just explain what it is that you believe, carefully and in plain English, and you might be surprised at how accepting they can be. Many Westerners have no idea what Buddhism is really all about; use every opportunity to explain!

9 comments to Christian Bashing

  • I have tried to not show prejudice to my son regarding christians, but it is difficult. I have christian friends that attend church 2-3 times a week, and we got along fine. But growing up, I was told repetedly, and loudly, that I was going to hell, that Satan owned my soul (actually, it was spelled out sole on the car window), etc. It is difficult to grow up non chrisitan in this county, specifically in the south. Unfortunately, 24 years later, my son is going through the same thing and we are still in a large metropolitan area. I just have to explain to him the ignorance they are imprisoned by and remind him of our friends that are christian and are not hateful to us.

  • Pete

    I remember a story that Bill Hicks (one of my favorite all time comedians and commentators) once spoke about a group a Christians who had heckled him at a club after one of his shows for bashing Christianity.
    They said “Hey, we’re Christians and we don’t like what you said” after being hostile with him and pushing him to get his attention.
    Bill simply replied ” then forgive me.”

    I’m not saying that there is no forgiveness in this situation, but it points out a common contradiction and hypocrisy that I have seen in Christianity. This is one of the main reason why I would always question Christianity in the first place.
    On the other hand – me being a Buddhist, I dont really think there is a set way to act like a Buddhist. I mean there are many cliche things that are associated with Buddhism and for example practicing Zen, but if you were to get into a conversation and somehow you blurt out that you’re a buddhist for whatever reason – is the way you’ve been acting consistent with what people think of Buddhists? If it isn’t then I think its healthy to say that you’re not wrong. I do many things that anger people and fire them up, but this is only because Gandhi always said “you must be the change you wish to see in the world”. The world needs to be changed and we need to go out and do it. Being passive and complacent isn’t in Buddhist nature. I think helping people by helping yourself first all the while being mindful is what it’s all about.
    I think my main point is that we are all just people living in this universe and we need to do what we can in order to sustain the human race. The planet will be here when we are long gone, but sustaining the human race is more of an issue.
    “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isnt thinking.” – George S. Patton

    (sorry if this is a little off topic, but I need to blurt out my thoughts)

  • Reg

    There really isn’t a debate here. There are many paths up the mountain, Only the goal is the same.

  • unityspirit

    During the years I have read studied went to church all the so called seeking a religious path and most times I either get confused or irritated because none of them agree or they are not logical in real life. At times I wish I could walk off a mountain and be alone without any past memory of anything “religous” . My suffering stems from tyring to find God in all places yet not wanting to have God defined by another human who has no idea either if there is or isnt one. God programming is one that doesnt seem to want to leave my brain. My intteligence says there is nothing I can create in my mind that would truely be a creator God that isnt limited to a form or “spot’ in the universe. I know now that for peace I need to stop believing in God. Like your audio. Why does god need belief for it to exist. if it does ok. if not ok too. I think its the psychological affect of wanting something beyond this life and to give it meaning. my mind says nothing has a purpose things just are but my conflict says were going someplace not sure just where though. oh well enough said.

  • I’m writing this comment as a Christian listener of the Daily Buddhism podcast. I’d like to apologize to you and the other commenters for the emails and ill will you all have received from Christians. I think they mean well (generally), but get overzealous and focus on trying to convert rather than trying to love. Christianity is a message of love, acceptance and giving not that different from Buddhism’s goal of eliminating suffering. Christ himself socialized with people different from Him, so why shouldn’t we?

    While listening to this podcast and learning more about Buddhism, it seems that the two aren’t that different in their values and goals. Buddhism is about lessening suffering. Christianity is about putting others before yourself. Buddhism teaches to end desires of worldly things and pleasures. Christianity preaches the same exact thing. Buddhism and Christianity also both teach loving-kindness. Buddhism teaches about the impermanence of the world and awakening from the sleep of ignorance. Christianity teaches that this life is temporary and to not store up treasures here, but in Heaven. Buddhism has its Noble Eightfold Path. Christianity has the 10 commandments. Buddhism is about reaching enlightenment or bodhi. Christianity is about becoming more Christ-like.

    I just wanted to write in and say that Christians are just people too. They definitely have their faults, but in the same way as you, they’re trying to be better. We’re not all that different.

  • steve

    I think that Buddhism and Christianity share the same goal.The death of the self,me and my story.CHRIST said “whosoever will save his life shall lose it,and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it”.Buddhism teaches that there is no self,no me.The self is made up of components that are impermanent.Christianity teaches that you can not save yourself that only GOD can.So you must go beyond the self to obtain salvation.This, at the deepest level is what Buddhism teaches only instead of the word “salvation” it uses the word “liberation”.In original Greek, “to sin” means to miss the mark as in archery when you miss the target.Buddhism uses the words like “skillful” and “unskillful”.Christianity seeks to break free from the ego by saying that it”s negative actions are shameful,Buddhism seeks to break free from the ego by saying that it”s negative actions are unskillful.These are just a few examples of how Christianity and Buddhism are similar at their deepest levels.They are seeking to accomplish the same goals although using different methods.

  • Jami

    Few men appear so alike than Christ and Buddha. Neither wives or possessions; the gospel of ‘love’ and the dharmah of ‘loving-kindness’.

    A Burmese nun said to me how she was impressed by Jesus. I said: what abt Muhammad. She frowned. She may have frowned if I mentioned David- the warrior King. I never asked her abt Moses. A very interesting, quite close female-friend from Bejing,whose husband is a Professor of Buddhism, and whose desire to be a monk was causing marital problems, also appeared indifferent to activist monotheisms. Jesus, onece again, was regarded as ‘gentle’. In tune with the Asian spirit, quite, soft, turn the other cheek morality. Women may like this in a man; but it may not provide a solution to injustice. Also, I hear there is ‘rice’ Christians in China (whose Christianity is tied to Evangelical incetives). Perhaps Jesus as the adavantage of also been rooted in a Western Cultural framework. Hence, his approval.

  • Zoe

    Buddhism accepts whatever may come…
    Christianity forces one to believe in an unknown, imaginary being in the sky… and a reward for good deeds, punishment for bad ones.

    That’s my take!

  • Rick

    I am a Christian but I don’t agree with the way most of us act as Christians. I read my bible and I see “Love, Love, Love..” Too often we interpret this to mean, “Love when someone agrees with you, love when it is convenient, love those whom you wish…” I appreciate Buddhist thought…much of Buddhism Jesus himself would likely agree with or ignore. What he would not do is come to this site or any other and spread hate.