For the last several years, people of faith are said to be intolerant, bigoted, homophobic and racist just to name a few. It is portrayed that the hate-filled Westboro Baptist Church is like the typical person of faith. Some people of faith have given opportunity to be accused of such claims. While the vast majority of people live fairly quiet lives attempting to Love God and Love their neighbors. In truth, lumping every one of a particular group together and labeling them based on the most negative among the group is the definition of prejudice. It is prejudging based on belonging to a certain, race, religious persuasion or other interest. Dare I say there are a small percentage of strong voices on both the left and the right who like the pied piper lead the sheeples to buy into their hate filled, demonizing speech.
Demonizing people comes from fear. We fear them for some reason and if we can keep them at arm’s length by demonizing them we don’t ever have to get to know them and have our fears shattered. The only way I have ever seen to stop demonizing people is to get to know them one on one.
I’m a Christian, unapologetically. I also am one of the most accepting people I know. For twenty years, I’ve taught and preached that our task is to love and accept people no matter what. We will love them to life. I have befriended and served every group imaginable from all races, religious persuasions, non-believers, drug addicts, alcoholics, liberals, homeless people, pedophiles and homosexuals. One thing I’ve discovered, everyone has a story, everyone is an individual and everyone is created in the image of God, no matter how marred that image may be. Everyone has been different from my preconceived ideas. Yes, one more thing. I believe if ANYONE comes to Jesus Christ, they will be made new.
The opposite of demonizing people is knowing people. It is taking time to listen. To understand their value structure. It is to hear where they’ve come from and their life experience. I regularly watch news shows where the people hold the opposite views as I do. What I generally feel from them is misrepresentation, demonizing and all the things they say we do as intolerant Christians.
The intolerance and demonizing is not working America. For our country to survive this approach must stop. We must start talking to people not at them or about them. Stop name calling like middle school kids. It is time to drop our fears and have some one-on-one dialogues over a cup of coffee.