Why Can't Christians Get Along With Each Other?

Less than a mile from my house, the construction of a church is taking place. This new house for a god, a rather modest structure, stands in front of a much larger church and across the street from an even bigger church. Three buildings designed with one thing in mind, to provide a venue where Christians can fellowship with one another. Three conflicting interpretations of god’s will for humanity, making it apparently impossible for the members of these churches to congregate under one roof together. Yet, all claim to offer guidance to those who seek a spiritual life. The resources dumped into these three structures alone could have fed and sheltered many of our homeless in a city of churches that has far too many poor people. Yes, the town where I live is often referred to as the city of churches. There’s always room for another church it would seem. 

Why is it so difficult for Christians to get along with one another? 

This is a question that has plagued me since I was a kid, a source of great confusion. Historically, the different religious groups have at best tolerated one another and at worst tried to kill each other even though they cherish the same holy book, the Bible. They remain as divided as two countries, piously quoting their scriptures to one another, each group believing that they've stumbled upon a uniquely divine point of view.  They can be quite adamant about their particular conclusions, too, sometimes even at gunpoint. That behavior is perplexing as well as discouraging I might add. If the supposed “best among us” can’t find a way to coexist, then is there any hope left for humans?

 I have to chuckle when I hear Christians calling upon the government to protect them from persecution.

The belief that Christianity is indeed under assault in 21st century America is a persistent one that is often vocalized publicly. Yet, whenever I hear Christians raise their voices in such a beseeching manner, I scratch my head in disbelief. While there’s no doubt in my mind that Christians have suffered down through the ages, their tormentors have frequently been other Christians from different churches. Even today, you can’t put two ministers in the same room for long without verbal conflict breaking out sooner or later. That’s the mildest form of conflict perhaps but their words carry a sting and their very thoughts construct imaginary walls that divide rather than unite.

 How many times has a church splintered, forming what the discontented members considered to be a new and improved version of the truth?

A group of people claiming to converse with a god every day no longer able to sit in the same room with one another. So off they go to build yet another house where they can feel comfortable with likeminded people. It’s similar to a marriage gone wrong. We’ve seen enough of those end up in the divorce courts in recent times to know how acrimonious a split can be. Not a lot of love left.

 I’m a Catholic, someone proudly proclaims. I’m a Protestant, someone else replies. 

Those very words whether they know it or not are fighting words. The two groups have staked their territories and now will reside in different buildings. They identify with specific cultural expectations and rituals that make it impossible to ever fully relax with one another even though they sing many of the same hymns and read from the same holy book. Of course, the Catholics and the Protestants share a long and bloody history, making the world sigh a big sigh of relief whenever they reach the point where they can at least manage their differences by simply attending different churches rather than murdering each other.

There is one scenario that seems to bring Christians together for a few minutes, however. When an atheist enters the room, Christians tend to unite.

They may have just concluded a rousting debate with one another, but as soon as the friendly neighborhood atheist shares their point of view — BOOM! Suddenly all Christians are on the same team. It seems that when it comes to religious truth, it’s better to believe in anything at all rather than nothing.

All across the world, religion divides.

Even in these modern times after making huge technological advances and scientific discoveries, the superstitions of religion continue to drive a wedge between us. More than ever, it’s become clear that cooperation, communication, and creative problem solving are important to the survival of the species. Unfortunately, religion often emphasizes the complete opposite. Thus, we throw away money and resources on building extravagant new churches even when many of our existing buildings have smaller and smaller congregations. Why? Because Christians can’t resolve their religious differences.

Religion does little to help humans develop the very skills needed to make society better. 

Once I got rid of the god virus from my brain, it was easier for me to see the great harm done to societies by religion. This long and continuing pattern of harmful effects truly emphasizes the limitations of the human brain. To spend centuries fighting and killing one another over deities that can’t even be proven to exist is not only strange but a fantastical phenomenon. While on the one hand the human brain is utterly amazing, it sadly can be our biggest enemy as well. The design is flawed. It often leads us down a path that can be self-destructive, making it difficult to get rid of harmful ideas. If indeed the brain had been an automobile, there would’ve been a massive recall by now. The many glitches need more than a fine tuning, however. A complete overhaul might be for the best.

 The fact that religion harms society is the reason I write about it. 

It stands in the way of progress. It holds people back from thinking outside the box and thus limits our much needed creative ideas. It causes divisions that run deep within communities and countries.  Religion provides a haven for superstition to thrive. It does not make for friendlier, safer environments but rather pits people against one another. Parents indoctrinate children with a particular version of religion which then defines the child's view of the world. Our brains being very flawed computer systems latch on to these beliefs making it sometimes impossible long after adulthood to question what we were told. Humans ultimately trade their freedom for a fairy tale and then fight to protect their sense of identity.

Nobody is sorrier than me that Christians can't get along with one another. 

After all, when I left the cult that I was raised in, I was excommunicated from my family. That's right! By exercising my free will, I had trampled through the blood of Jesus according to my parents, leaving them no choice but to disown me. This is a despicably macabre story that is as old as the hills, too. So many families have been torn apart by religious beliefs. I contend, however, that if humans want to leave a better world for their children than the one they inherited, religion and all of it's divisive superstitions must take a back seat.

That means that the devout have to stop threatening one another.

The rest of us have grown weary of their inflexible and destructive world views. They've had centuries to straighten up their act. To still behave as though they're living in the Dark Ages is inexcusable in the 21st century. Any fervent belief in demons and gods or hearing voices that sometimes direct you to hurt other people over silly religious superstitions scares the rest of us half to death. Historically, that kind of thinking has not bode well for society, Christians and sinners alike.

So, I have one word of advice. 

For all those Christians fearing that they’ll be hung from a cross or burned at the stake, I suggest you keep an eye on all the people going in and out of the church across the street from your church. History repeats itself.