Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mocking the Faith of Another

A favorite knee-jerk reaction of a fair number of people is mocking the beliefs of others. Only those who don't believe in anything can avoid being mocked.

Just tonight, after band practice, a very devout Charismatic woman I was conversing with about my donation of a music collection to BYU remarked, "Oh, that's in Salt Lake City, Mormon Heaven." The innuendo was that Mormons don't believe in the same kind of heaven others do, so they created their own. I explained that LDS have a deep reverence for the founding of this nation on Christian principles and that band music refects much of historic Americana. After she remembered I was LDS, she shifted quickly to mock Jehovah's Witnesses about not pledging allegience to the flag. "Yes", I thought, "divert attention from your slip of the tongue by quickly shifting to attacking someone else's faith." But I didn't say that. Instead, I kindly explained to her that Jehovah's Witnesses' reasoning, from Scripture, is that they believe they should pledge allegience only to God, not to a government. She went on to infer they don't believe in obeying laws since they don't pledge. I continued, "not pledging the flag does not mean they don't obey the laws of the land."

Why did I feel compelled to enter into this defensive dialogue with this otherwise sweet woman? Because I think that people who show their ignorance by mocking the faith of others need to be challenged. Faith is faith because it can't be proven. If it could be proven, it wouldn't be faith. It would be indisputable fact. Faith is not fact. It is, as they say "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Review Hebrews Chapter 11.) Even the concept of "fact" has its shortcomings. A thing we understand as "fact" today oftentimes is incomplete or partial truth, or perhaps totally in error. So to make fun of someones' faith is an ignorant exercise.

Even the aetheist who mocks any religion based on their belief that nothing is possible apart from the proofs of science is on very shaky ground. He proves his ignorance by denying the fact that science has yet to prove much more in the future than it has proven in the past. That is to say, much more is yet to be discovered and known than has been discovered and known so far. Acceptance of the "unproven" or the "unknown" involves faith.

Evangelicals in particular find it easy to mock any non-Evangelical, whether it be Catholics, Mormons, or non-evangelical Presbyterians. It is so easy, so much fun, and so common to make fun or belittle or defame others based on ignorance of the concept of faith, or ignorance of the basis for the faith of others. And naturally, instead of taking the time to understand the reasons for another's faith, it is much easier and more fun to mock it.

Today's Christians often have a bad case of amnesia when they engage in deriding the beliefs of others, especially when new revelelation is involved. They forgot that during the time of Christ the Jews had difficulty accepting change. Jesus was mocked and ultimately crucified for claiming a new belief system that was contrary to existing tradition and practice. The prophets of the Old Testament more often than not were in despair because their own people ignored and mocked what they were prophesying.

It is so easy to ignore that history and to apply a double standard by ignorantly mocking those not in agreement with our own beliefs. We all live in glass houses with regard to our vulnerability to attack because of our beliefs. These actions are often called "bigotry", a behavior in the same league as racism, facism and other forms of unjust discrimination.


Anonymous said...

If you are that secure in your choice of worship, I would think you wouldn't have to "defend" yourself over and over again.

Why not just pray for the people who disagree with you?

Gerardo Moochie said...

Anonymous has a good question, but one that missed my point. Note that the beliefs I was defending were not only my own, but those of others as well. My point was not primarily to defend my own faith, but to highlight the practice of some to ignorantly mock the faith of others. This practice is quite common and apparently quite satisfying to the arrogant and bigoted. With regard to being “secure” in one’s faith… there is “security” and then there is “presumption.” While prayer is an essential ingredient in all faiths, action is just as important. Letting falsehoods, lies, and innuendo stand when someone demonstrates their ignorance about one’s faith is a disservice. Many people are so secure in their "choice of worship" that they don't express their beliefs and values to others. They "let go and let God" so to speak. I believe in sharing information. I believe we can learn from one another. I believe that there are some people who are open to new information. I don’t believe in letting misinformation stand.

Gerardo Moochie said...

What if the apostles only prayed, secure in their "faith", and didn't express their understanding of the truth of the gospel to every group of people every chance they had? Where would Christianity be today if they were silent, in prayer?

Hal said...

Do you distinguish between 'mocking' and 'joking'?

Gerardo Moochie said...

Mocking vs. "joking". This topic is worthy of an entire blog. Often the same spirit that is behind mocking is behind "joking." Joking is sometimes thinly veiled mocking. The best jokes are about oneself, not about others.