Clearly asking themselves "What would Jesus do?," Christians reacted to Jessica with messages like:
How does it feel to be the most hated person in RI right now? Your a puke and a disgrace to the human race.Also clearly, these Christians, like most Christians I've ever known, live their lives regardless of the teachings of Jesus. That may be what makes this story all the more important.
shes not human shes garbage
I think everyone should just fight this girl
F**k Jessica alquist I'll drop anchor on her face
Let's all jump that girl who did the banner
But for real somebody should jump this girl
I want to punch the girl in the face
I hope there's lots of banners in hell when your rotting in there you atheist f**k
jessica alquist is gonna get punched in the face
Christians are not really different. I didn't suddenly turn into a different person when I started to have doubts, or when I finally reached the threshold of where I called myself an atheist. Sure, philosophically and religiously I was different, but the passions of hate and love which dwell within the human psyche remained unscathed. I was still human, just as Christians are. So at a certain level, we must realize that this abhorrent anger being displayed by these Christians is something all of us can identify with and could feel under the right (or wrong) circumstances.
So, why did they react this way? The answer to the question transcends faith, extending to all fields of human belief, having implications for everything from politics to science. "Science, really?" you ask. Yes, even there, as it is not always the sterile, truth-is-all-that-matters environment that it should be.
I'm not a psychologist, but I play one on the internet. So here is my take on the lessons to be learned:
- When deeply held beliefs come under question from outsiders, feelings of anger can erupt. No shocker there, right? Yet this isn't 100% clear until you consider the next point:
- Deeply held beliefs are often extended by symbolism into physical objects. Jessica's quest to remove the prayer banner was not at all a literal questioning of Christian belief, yet because of the symbolism involved in the prayer banner, people react as though it was a literal attack on their beliefs. Interestingly enough, their reaction illustrates that the prayer banner is practically an idol for some Christians, at least in the sense of the word "idol" which Christians have completely bastardized; real idols were objects which received prayer and sacrifice, but the modern Christian use of the term is pretty much anything which is of great importance other than God.
- When you do not have a strong foundation for your strongly held beliefs, anger is more likely to erupt when they are questioned. As I quipped above, these particular Christians did not seem to know much about the teachings of Jesus. They seem to believe based on emotions. So when their beliefs are questioned, they don't have the comfort of simply knowing that it is true. Therefore they feel the need to suppress those who question their beliefs.
- When society as a whole is changing their beliefs, and that trend is against your own beliefs, sensations of being threatened are heightened. In truth, most of these people who reacted will not be affected one tiny blip by the removal of that banner. They could go on living Christian lives (or at least what they think is a Christian life) without any problem. However, the removal of the banner is just one more encroachment of the wave of atheism which has been coming on for decades now, and, in our times, with greater speed than ever as information sharing makes doubts and Biblical issues very easy to explore for the curious. This connects with the next point:
- When you use inflammatory language, you get inflammatory results. Sensing the encroachment of atheism, several prominent pastors which I have heard on the radio, and probably others just form their local pulpit, project this cultural change as a war. Onward Christian soldier. The problem is that war is inherently violent. Even if these pastors are just using the phrase symbolically, the images of violent confrontation still leap into mind and excite the emotions. After all, There have been a scarce few conflicts in human history where one side marches out to the battle field just to "turn the other cheek."