Actual Christianity vs Toxic American Christianity

Am I being unreasonable to assert (in a recent comment section here) that jerks who profess Christianity are not behaving the way Christians are supposed to, and therefore aren’t really Christians at all? If someone on the forums were to say that Muslims were terrorists (note I am NOT saying that at all, just using this as an example) they would get shut down really quickly, but it seems like the exact opposite is happening and that I’m “sweeping” the noisy TACs under the rug. I’m not trying to be holier-that-thou and I most certainly am not perfect, but I am offended that I’m getting yelled at because I’m saying not all Christians are like that.


I think I know which comment you mean.
The main problem causing the conflict here is that there’s being Christian in the sense of belonging to a Christian denomination and there’s being Christian in following Jesus’ teachings. What you stated in your comment is true for the second case – whoever actually tries to follow what Jesus teaches won’t be a hateful jerk and won’t use Christianity to justify their bad behavior. I’m a Christian (Catholic, if that matters) and I know our mission is to spread the word about God’s love, the afterlife, etc., but not do so in an obnoxious manner that is guaranteed to drive even those willing to listen away.
However, those saying it’s the “no true Scotsman” fallacy are, unfortunately, also right – just because we know those jerks don’t represent our faith correctly, for those who encounter them it won’t matter. Those people are Christians in the sense that they belong to some denomination and thus also represent Christianity, and, as pointed out in one of the answers to your comment, they are very loud and noticeable. I’m not sure what could be done about them aside from throwing them out of their congregations, which is also not a definitive solution.
(As a side note, there is much good that Christians do, be it tending to the sick, aiding the poor or providing relief in times of crises, but the obnoxious are often more easy to see than these people doing God’s work, in part because a Christian following Jesus’ teachings will do good without garnering attention.)

Putting this in spoiler because this is only tangentially related, but I believe the worst thing to happen to the Catholic Church, way back, was being given lands by Pepin the Short, king of Franks – from that moment, the Church was more of a political entity than a faith and many of the problems we have today (corrupt and wealthy upper clergy, Christians-in-name holding way too much political power…) are consequences of over a thousand years of the Church having political power and incredible wealth and those things being taken for granted, not being really challenged and forced to take a look at its own behavior. But that’s a whole other discussion.


There are some pretty crazy stories on Not Always Right about people who claim to be Christians - I’m not. But maybe they just have their own special idea of being Christian… which can include being greedy, selfish, angry, judgemental, racist, and - from the search that I just did - hating Harry Potter.

So I’d say leave them to it. But there also is a long tradition, it seems, of Christians criticising or disowning other Christians, so you can certainly do that. Or just say in quotes: “What Would Jesus Do?” Although sometimes the answer to that is “He would stop the funeral and bring the deceased person back to life”, for instance, which would be nice but usually not the point that you want to make.


Depending on the survey, about 70% of Americans identify as Christians. Are there absolute scumbags in a demograph of 200 million+ people? Absolutely. Are most of them? No.

The difference is in how people of the internet treat demographs. Christianity is not a minority, so some people seem to think it’s okay tossing out whatever hate terms you want towards it.

The things people say to Christians vs less common American religions like Muslim are very much different, but they shouldn’t be.


Hi! I am one of the people who vehemently disagreed with you and others who claimed the customer was not a real Christian on that particular post.

The main issue is using 2 different definitions of what a Christian is:

  1. a person who adopts Christianity as their religion
  2. a person who adopts Christianity as their religion AND is perfect in upholding its values.

When you say someone “is not a real Christian”, you are changing the definition mid-conversation, without ever stating that fact.

There are certain standards of behaviour that are expected of Christians by their own faith. This is how they SHOULD behave, but not necessarily how they DO behave.
Failing to behave in ways that are professed by Christianism doesn’t automatically exclude a person from being a part of that religion. If that happened, it would create a theoretical group incapable of any misdeed, and the consequence is that this group would be untenable. That is a way to keep the group from being held responsible.

I also believe that, at least in the case of Christianism, that second definition is a fallacy in itself (even if you don’t mix the two notions).
One of the main religious aspects of C. is forgiveness by God. People sin, repent, and by truly repenting they are forgiven. The teachings of Jesus have examples that show you should not judge others, because everyone has sinned.
Ergo, a real Christian is a person who has, in fact, made mistakes and sinned!

As for the comparison with Islam, I think the sentence you suggested is a false equivalency.

If a person says “Muslims are terrorists”, and that implies that we’re talking about all Muslims, that is objectively false. That is not comparable to criticizing Christians who belittle others, which usually happens without that level of generalization. Even if one said “all Christians are dícks”, which similarly holds an objective falsehood, the accusation there is way smaller / less aggressive than accusing Muslims of being terrorists.

In short! I disagree with saying people are “not real Christians” when they’re jerks because that is an unhelpful generalization and logically dishonest tactic, as well as a form of gatekeeping!


I agree with what Lola says.

In addition you need to think a bit about who you are speaking to and in what context.

If you come across someone talking about bad behavior behavior they’ve witnessed, or abuse they have suffered, at the hands of professed Christians, you really don’t come off well suddenly joining the conversation just to insist that the Christians in question aren’t real Christians.

It’s comes off incredibly accusatory, like those involved the discussion are somehow at fault for accepting the stated religious affiliation of a large group of people behaving in a similar manner.
As though the people describing their experiences secretly know the people mistreating them aren’t Christian and are being dishonest by claiming otherwise, or as if refusing to call them Christians would somehow erase the bad behavior and solve everything. It’s very victim blamey.

It’s even worse when the bad behavior is in fact very specific to Christian doctrine. Telling someone who has constantly been threatened with hell, or told they are being controlled by Satan, that the people dispensing these Christian specific threats and insults aren’t “actually” Christian is highly suspect. Like you’re trying to pretend those parts of Christian doctrine don’t exist.


Agree with the two posters above me.

This isn’t actually an equivalent comparison. If the assertion was “all Christians are bad people” then yes that would be equivalent, because it’s not right to make sweeping generalizations about people based on their religion. But the assertion is actually “all people who are bad are not Christian.” Being bad doesn’t change your religious status. Nobody says radical Muslim terrorists are not Muslim (they themselves certainly believe they are), instead they say they are not representational of the majority of the faith.

Christianity has existed in so many forms and been practiced in so many ways around the world across time. Who are we to say what makes one a “true” Christian or not, when even the different sects cannot agree? Perhaps it is good works, or predestination, or faith, or ritual, or service, or intention, or nothing.


By my humble insight, it might be a better idea to apologize for those Christians’ behavior and, for what it’s worth, state that not all of us are like that. Not sure if anyone offended by a toxic Christian will be interested in that, but, to me, it still seems better than trying to pretend they are not of the same flock.


No, you aren’t. But we ALL know who IS the unreasonable one…

In my personal observations, most people who comments on the internets are frowning upon religions. ANY religions. Whether it’s Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc. Anything seems like a free target for jokes on the internet. It’s a losing battle because when you try to say that not all religious people are bad, you ended up becoming another target for them. I try it on 9gag everytime someone make bad joke about religion, and I always ended up being ganged on by many people. That’s why now everytime anyone make any jokes about religion, I’ll just leave downvotes and left. It’s no use fighting a losing battle.

Oh and by the way, it also happenned in NAR comments too.

For starters, nobody from outside a religion should be trying to gatekeep who qualifies as a member. Being non-Christian, I will accordingly not even touch the idea of who’s a “true Christian”.

What I will say is this: I’ve known good and bad people of many religions, and of none. In my experience, some people use religion to excuse their virtues, while others use it to justify their vices. Ultimately, you need to judge people by their acts. (And yes, their words are also acts, but only one category of action.)