If Christians have a bad reputation, maybe it’s because we need more empathy.


Last week, CNN.com ran an article asking if Christians are a “hated minority.” In the piece, some evangelical Christians suggest that they are being demonized for expressing their religious view that homosexuality is a sin, and that this is proof that Christian views are no longer tolerated in American society.

I had several initial responses to this:

  1. Those individuals don’t speak for all Christians.
  2. As I’ve said before on this blog, “homosexuality” is not a thing.
  3. This is a hot topic, so of course people will express their disagreement with you, whoever you are. No one on either side gets a free pass to avoid criticism.
  4. The issue isn’t just those individuals’ moral opposition to gay sex/marriage. A lot of it has to do with their language and attitude.

I decided to write an op-ed on this last point, explaining that the reason Christians have a bad reputation in today’s society has a lot to do with the perception that we lack empathy.

Well, today CNN published my letter on their website. Of course, they had to edit it a bit for their space (which, as an author, always feels a bit like having one’s child cut up and stitched back together), but they were very generous about letting me review the edits, and I think it still conveys my meaning.

Here’s how it starts:

In high school, I was a Christian know-it-all.

My nickname was “God boy,” and I was known for preaching at my friends about social issues of the day. I dismissed their objections—and accusations of homophobia—as intolerance for my faith.

“I’m just telling you what God’s Word says,” I’d argue.

Years later I realized my mistake. What my peers most objected to wasn’t my beliefs; it was my condescending attitude. I debated and preached when I should have listened. I thought that stating my position loudly and unyieldingly was a sign of strength. In the process, I alienated my friends.

I’m still an evangelical Christian, but one thing is now crystal clear to me. American evangelicals’ bad reputation isn’t just because of what we believe. It’s mostly because of how we behave.

You can read the rest on the CNN Belief Blog.