Blame by association and pollution of ideas

Is it reasonable to hold someone in any way responsible or accountable for belonging to a group or organisation which has suffered misconduct (of different members) in the past?

Is it possible for, say telephone sales operatives to have such a negative effect on their trade that it will be impossible for any salesman to make genuine offers?

Is it possible that football(soccer) hooliganism could become so rife and serious that it will no longer be considered acceptable to be a genuine fan?

Is it reasonable to tar meek people of faith with the bloodthirsty and hateful historical actions of people claiming to belong to their religion?

You can probably guess what I’m driving at; the crusades, burning witches at the stake, holy wars and so on; As a person who claims to be a Christian (and who genuinely has no desire to cause harm to my fellow humans, regardless of whether they subscribe to my bizarre worldview), must I be tarred with the brush of unChristian actions of others, just because they verbally claimed to be something that their actions plainly denied? Must I be weighed down with a historical millstone that I don’t feel I really own?

Oh no, wait, maybe deep, deep down I really do want to kill and maim for Jesus and I’m just repressing it, yeah, that’s it.

[sup]Thought we’d just get that one out of the way right now[/sup]

Oh, I though you were going to ask about all of Anderson being punished for the sins of some.

As to Christianity, no, you do not, but you must recognize that evil has been and continues to be done in the name of your faith. Sure, it may be taking the name in vain, but nevertheless. And be sensitive to it.

The basic question can be applied to many situations: as a White male American should I be held responsible for Black slavery? (Heck, my family wasn’t even in the States yet) and so on.

Pay a price? no. Acknowledge that some current situations are the result of this history even if I had nothing to do with it? yes.

IANAC but it seems to me that far, far more good than harm has been done in the name of Christianity. Look at the hospitals, universities and schools, social agencies, charities, etc. Look at the contribution that Christian principles made to the American Constitution and to the abolition of slavery.

OTOH the bad things Mangetout mentioned all occurred hundreds of years ago. The Crusades were nearly a thousand years ago. Why should Christians still be beaten over the head with them?

[sub]However, there’s no excuse for consorting with Straight Dopers.[/sub]

december wrote:

Where? Where?

(Darn it, did I fall asleep in Sunday school the day they talked about Representative Democracy and Bi-Cameral Legislatures?)

Well, I do feel that you hold the honor of the name of Christ in your own hand when you name your self to be a Christian. Some feel this is a license. Others feel it is weapon.

Why it doesn’t make them quake in fear is beyond my understanding. I think I have just about worn out the keys on my computer where you have to type “I claim no authority for this, but I believe . . .” and I am sure folks who read my posts often are pretty tired of it. But you see, I don’t want to wear the millstone, and if the Lord asks me where I led His children, I want to say “Right here, Lord, to know Your love.”

Every time you speak words that say Jesus said . . . then you have volunteered yourself as the Voice of God. Speak carefully, my friend, because you don’t want to have to tell Him, “Well, I guess they didn’t understand me.” Be loving, be forgiving, be patient, or be silent. Yours is the soul you have placed into the balance.


I think I should talk less, and pray more.

Is this thread locked, or did I just kill it?

I must disagree with you. These actions were christians by these times standards. They didn’t merely claimed to be christians, they were christians. A crusader was doing the most commendable thing he could do : offering his life to fight the evil muslims. In any text written by a crusader, one would find references to his love for Jesus Christ, for instance. Slavery, etc…was accepted by the catholic church, and then by the protestant churches. The stakes were build in the name of our lord, as much in Italy by the catholic bishops as in Geneva by Calvin.

Since, our morals evolved. The churches rarely if ever were the cause for such evolution. They usually resisted it (as we can notice even now, with the acceptance of homosexuality for instance), fought it, then eventually accepted it and included these new moral requirments in their teachings.

It seems to me that this belief that christians weren’t really christians 500 years ago is an intellectual fallacy. It would mean that the wide majority of christian people and churches leaders, despite many years spend reading the scriptures didn’t understand what christianism was all about. And that suddenly, say during this century, the “real” meaning of christianism was discovered or rediscovered. If someone believes that, it seems to me that the most logical choice should be to leave these many churches which were so deeply mistaken and create a new one. But of course, this new church would have to evolve and adapt too, or to die. For instance, if 100 years down from now, vegetarism becomes the moral norm, I’m pretty certain that the christian churches will include “thou shall not kill fluffy animals” in the conduct expected from a good christian. And the believers will state that you (assuming you’re a steak-eater) weren’t a real christian, but only “verbally claimed to be so”.
As for your individual responsability, it’s a tricky question. I don’t think one can be held responsible for a crime he didn’t participated in and didn’t condone. Howewer, you choose to join an organization (and, I assume, are a proud member of it) which has a very dubious historical record (I’m refering to individual churches, here, not to “christianism” in a broad sense). Personnally, I wouldn’t want to do that. You can’t be directly held responsible, but you can’t blame someone who throw at your face the crimes commited by a church you willfully joined, either.

The best analogy would probably be with a member of a political party. For instance a communist party which used to support Stalinism. Does : “sure, but we aren’t stalinist anymore” “the leaders and members of our party were deeply mistaken 40 years ago, but now, we’re real communists” does the trick for you? (I’m not refering to someone who only states he’s communist, but to someone who actually belong to a party who used to be stalinist, once again.) . If you think that you can blame him for his party’s behavior in the past, I guess you must accept to be blamed for the conduct of your church in the past. And even if you personnaly think he shouldn’t be blamed, you have to expect that some people will disagree with this point of view and will consider that being a member, you’re somehow condoning past crimes.

Speaking of Stalin, he and Mao, two celebrated atheists, put all crusades combined to shame. I see no reason to paint all atheists as mass murderers.

Well now, I joined the Christian church on the strength of it’s current attributes (and because of what I believe to have been a personal encounter with Jesus, but I don’t expect that to carry much weight here) I’t true and fair to say that I was woefully ignorant of the chequered history of ‘Christianism’ until after my conversion, so what should I do now? - It is my earnest desire to follow Christ (not the church), what else should I allow myself to be labelled? (if indeed there is any worth in labelling anyone). To apportion blame to contemporary Christianity seems like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

I respectfully disagree. Stalin and Mao were atheists, yes, but their crimes were not commited in the name of Atheism. That is a very important distinction. The Crusades, the Witch-Hunts, the Inquistion–ALL were committed in the name of a religion. Stalin and Mao were murdering psychos, that’s true. Their crimes were political atrocities. A BIG difference from. I don’t think that anything has ever been done the name of Atheism. But I’m willing to hear other sides.


[glurge]Well, there was this show about angels that Madalyn Murray O’Hair tried to get taken off the air…[/glurge]
<d&r very very fast>

Well, I think there has to be a balance. For example, even if the KKK holds bake sales with the proceeds going towards the local childrens’ hospital, I’d like to think we’d still not join it.

But, do I hold the local church goer responsible for the Salem witch trials? not unless they’re saying ‘you know, it wasn’t such a bad idea’

Eh? She did? Hmm. Seems like she was running out of ideas. I wonder what she would think of “Touched By An Angel”? But then, Rev. Phelps thinks thinks that this show is eeevilll, so there you go.

I should have been more clear. I meant I don’t think that any atrocities have ever been done in the name of atheism. Stalin and Mao commited political crimes, true, but they couldn’t and shouldn’t be considered religious crimes.

ps, you never have to worry about running from me, sweetie. Unless we’re in the Pit!! BUWUHAHAHA!!! :wink:

Um, actually she didn’t; it was some “moral outrage” email glurge that went around for a while (even after she got disappeared/presumed dead).

Just to make up for the hijack, my two cents is that I agree Stalin and Mao did not commit atrocities in the name of atheism, but rather in the name of the People. Unlike various religions which have become the core of certain political ideologies and strategies (e.g. the Crusades, current Islamic fundamentalism), atheism seems to have been incidental to those totalitarian Communist regimes.

This is not to say that I take clairobscur’s position that Communists and Christians (or any particular -ians, -ists or what have you) can legitimately be held to answer for past actions of Communist or Christian states simply because of their belief in the particular system or religion. Nor do I agree that members of any religion, party or organization are necessarily accountable for present day actions of their leadership —if those actions do not directly follow from the premises and objectives of the religion/party/organization.

On that point I say to the OP that no, you don’t own that millstone.

I completely agree. It’s like a club. What kind of club do you want to be associated with? A club that committed atrocities in the past? I club in which half the members apologize for said atrocities and half the members don’t? I club that uses its leader or culture as the scapegoat? (i.e. Our leader said to do it! At the time, this behavior wasn’t considered evil!).

That’s a good point. The problem is, how can we tell who really thinks this and who doesn’t? And how do Christians and Jews justify the Biblical passages?

It’s all such a puzzle . . .:confused:

Ahh. Makes much more sense now. And she is dead now, right?

I’m not sure I agree with you here. To me, members of a group, organization, club, belief system, etc. are directly responsible for the behavior, mission statement, triumphs, and embarrassments of the various groups and organizations to which they belong. How can they not be? I mean, they vote for, pay for, and believe in their leaders.

When a person joins and supports and organization, he/she carries the baggage of both the past and present, no?


No, Mangetout, you don’t deserve it. You deserve to be acepted as an individual on the strength of your character, and not judged as a stereotype. Speaking as an agnostic, in love with a pagan, with a closeted gay little brother, and living in the rural Midwest, I imagine we’ve walked some of the same roads from different sides of the mirror. There’s a valid distinction to be drawn between Christian followers of Jesus and “Christian” memebers of the country’s largest political party/social clique/hate group. Unfortunately, in my experience, the latter considerably outnumber the former. I don’t need history or the media to garner unfortunate associations with your religion. Any time I want to know what Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson think on any given issue, I need only go to the laundromat, eat out, take a haircut, read the local paper or show up to work. It’s hard for me to imagine any American Christian feeling as besieged or surrounded by Stalinists or Maoists as I do by “Christians”. But people like yourself and Poly, Tris and Jodi are helping to heal this sickness in our culture, though your gentle wisdom, your willingness to share love and forbearance to strike back. For make no mistake, many of those who strike out at you have been hit first, hard and often by those claiming to share your faith. The witch trials and Inquisition are part of the history of your religion, but certainly not chargeable against your personal conscience or ideals. But in a country where an ex-president (my former commander-in-chief) declares publically that atheists are neither citizens nor patriots, I feel it behooves me to keep history in mind. In a culture where the label “Christian” has been spun to circumscribe all that is good and desirable rather than denote an individual choice of faith, a lot of mud gets slung over the fence and some will inevitably get slung back. I’m sorry you got splattered, for you don’t deserve it. Neither do I or those I love. I wish you peace and healing.

Ah. Then I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to the world for my part in the Watergate break-in and coverup. Sorry about all that! (I hope no one brings charges… what’s the statute of limitations for burglary and conspiracy, I wonder?)

You know, we do speak out against “those Christians.” Here on this board, when they show up, you will almost see the same names on the post list, Me, Poly, Jodi, Mangetout, Libertarian, Edlyn, and others. Generally, our objections are stated gently, and with love. That may seem emotionally unsatisfying, given the level of hatred being spewed, but it has to be that way.

Yes, I do speak out to non Christians on what I think the message of Christ is. But I also speak out to Christians, and at times very strongly when I think the speaker has spoken his own thoughts and claimed the authority of Christ for them. In one case I did so very strongly, and did it twice, in terms the poster could not possibly misconstrue. For him, it was far more poignant than a Pit Rant against him. He left the board, not long after that. But that is a very strong stance to take against anyone, that I believe the Lord Himself is displeased with the person. I have no authority but my own faith. In most cases that authority extends only to my own spirit, except to give testimony that the Lord loves us, each, and all.