University of North Texas sociologists George Yancey and David Williamson are issuing a warning that some of the most virulent anti-Christians in the country tend to be among the influential and elite.
Yancey and Williamson, authors of the new book “So Many Christians, So Few Lions: Christianophobia in the United States,” studied anti-Christian sentiments among various people and found some common, and alarming, traits.
The sociologists say that there is not rampant “Christianophobia” in the country, but that those who do hold the most irrational anti-Christian views tend to be well-educated and gravitate toward positions where they could, at least in theory, use their authority to assert their hatred.
The authors aren’t talking about your average folk who may not want to go to church, but the sort of rabid, unreasoning hatred that you often see among atheists on the Internet.
Yancey said that he and Williamson first decided to explore the topic when they were conducting interviews of liberal activists for other projects and they began to notice a worrisome trend of anti-Christian feeling among some respondents.
In a blog entry, Yancey stated that the title of the book, “So Many Christians, So Few Lions,” comes from the unusual number of interviews in which respondents made jokes about feeding Christians to the lions, which Yancey compares morally to making jokes about throwing Jews into ovens.
He shared three examples of some of what he considers the worst statements from respondents:
“I want them all to die in a fire. (Male, aged 26-35 with doctorate)
“They should be eradicated without hesitation or remorse. Their only purpose is to damage and inflict their fundamentalist virus onto everyone they come in contact with. (Female, aged 66-75 with master’s degree)
“They make me a believer in eugenics….They pollute good air…I would be in favor of establishing a state for them… If not, then sterilize them so they can’t breed more. (Male, aged 46-55 with master’s degree)”
The authors note that there seems to be less of this intense level of hatred directed against Christians than there is directed against atheists. However, people who hate atheists are less likely to be highly educated or in positions of social influence than are those who despise Christians.
Yancey says this presents an unusual aspect to the data the authors gathered, in that we tend to think that educated people are more reasonable and less prone to irrational hatred. There is perhaps an inference that could be drawn that maybe hatred of Christians is somehow justified. But the authors don’t seem to believe that, just note it.
Yancey said one of the aspects of hatred directed at Christians is the ways in which the Christianophobes dehumanize the targets of their hatred. He refers to a definition which he identifies as “animalistic dehumanization.”
People who engage in animalistic dehumanization believe that Christians show “lack of culture instead of civility, coarseness instead of refinement, amorality instead of moral sensibility, irrationality instead of logic and childlikeness instead of maturity.”
On the last point, Yancey said the Christian haters believe that Christians are immature and easily manipulated by their leaders. As examples, he shared statements from two interviewees:
“The leaders are deceptive and power hungry individuals who invoke ‘God’ in a political sense to rally their supporters. … They play to people’s emotions, daily. (Female, aged 26-35 with bachelor’s degree)
“Their movement’s leaders are the worst type of manipulative authoritarian scum and their millions of followers are sad, weak people who are all too willing to give up their self-respect and liberty for a fantasy. (Male, aged 26-35 with bachelor’s degree)”
The authors’ work underscores what I’ve always felt was a powerful theme in the atheist religion (yes, religion). While many atheists will make a show of pretending to be smarter than the average bear, many if not most of the atheists I’ve ever encountered are obviously motivated more by emotion than intellect — specifically, an intense dislike of Christianity.
That dislike does tend to coalesce into the sort of irrational hatred that the authors describe, and I believe it is the real motivating factor behind the countless lawsuits that aim to stop public prayers, remove monuments, prevent mention of God in schools, etc., etc.
Their observations about the most hard-core anti-Christians being in positions of influence also rings true. Just take a look at Mikey Weinstein and the inordinate influence he has exerted at the Pentagon in recent years.
I would suggest that the differences in social influence and education between atheists and Christians are simply part of the natures of the two groups and have nothing to do with who is smarter.
The key phrase for atheists is “highly educated,” which says nothing about intelligence. Applying Ockham’s Razor (a favorite philosophical concept atheists love except when it’s used against them), education just means you’re adept at parroting answers teachers want to hear and jumping through bureaucratic hoops — hardly evidence of the ability to think independently.
(William of Ockham, of course, was a Franciscan friar and theologian, which should tell you which side in the atheist-Christian debate really has the brains.)
As for social influence, those who reject Christianity are less likely to feel hesitant about pursuing power and wealth than most Christians. Obsessed as most atheists seem to be with proving once and for all that they are right and Christians are wrong, it’s only natural that the most virulent anti-Christians would wheedle their way into positions of authority.
Yancey and Williamson bring up many intriguing points that shed light on the current state of our country. Their book could be worthwhile reading for Christians who want to know their enemies.