This section is devoted to anticipating and responding to possible critiques of my essay. If you are considering writing your own critique of my essay, please consider a couple of things before you set pen to paper or fingers to keyboard:
- Refuting or contradicting only one of my points does not negate this entire publication. My argument is not a chain of logic which falls apart if one link is broken; it is more like a massive pile of evidence, any part of which is enough to obtain a guilty verdict.
- You cannot convert me to Christianity. Please don’t bother trying.
- Just because I’ve constructively criticized your religion as it intersects which hc/punk doesn’t mean that I hate you personally or bear you any ill will at all.
On to the anticipated criticisms and my responses:
“Hardcore is about being open-minded. Isn’t it close-minded to reject Christianity?”
If hardcore punk is about being open-minded, then why don’t we uncritically accept every possible point of view within our scene? For instance, why don’t we go ahead and let Nazi bands play alongside anti-racist bands? Why don’t we sign to major labels or allow major label bands to play at our shows or appear in our fanzines? Why don’t we consider Ted Nugent or Puff Daddy or the Spice Girls to be part of our scene?
The fact is that hc/punk is obviously not about the uncritical acceptance of every possible opinion, ideology and point of view. It is not close-minded to be consistent, and hc/punk is not consistent with Christianity. Despite the infighting, backstabbing, disagreements and arguments within hc/punk, most of us can agree that there are some things which hc/punk definitely does not include, such as sucking up to corporations or public opinion. Racism and fascism also fall in this category. Christianity should too.
“What if someone is a Christian but doesn’t shove his/her beliefs down your throat?”
Then the contradictions they experience between their beliefs and hc/punk are internal and none of anyone’s business, including mine. The minute they make their beliefs public, those contradictions become external and can be freely criticized by me or anyone else. The same is true of any belief system, not just Christianity. For instance, feel free to analyze the possible contradictions between the brand of statist communism espoused by several bands and the individualist DIY ethic heralded by hc/punk. The moral of the story is: if you fly the flag of your beliefs, others are entitled to comment on your flag-waving. Your right to believe what you want does not include a right to be free from criticism.
“What about people who believe in an afterlife or reincarnation but not organized religion?” “What about me? I believe that all religions are equally valid.”
“What about Muslims/Krishnas/Wiccans/Jews?”
“What about Hardline, why don’t you attack them too?”
As I stated in section two, my sole intention with this essay is to analyze and critique Christianity as it intersects with hardcore punk. Feel free to write your own essay criticizing whatever ideology or religion you like. DIY, remember? All I can say is that you have a very challenging task ahead of you which will require many hours of research. By the way, if you are interested in collaborating on an essay which thoroughly explores and criticizes Hardline, please get in touch with me.
“Your knee-jerk rejection of Christianity is trendy and insincere.”
“You’re jumping on the anti-Christian bandwagon.”
“It’s popular to hate Christianity in hc/punk, so what you’re saying is nothing new or true.”
I’m always impressed by Christians who try to argue that criticism of Christianity is merely a hateful trend, and if we all weren’t so hateful or trendy or stupid then we would just accept Jesus Christ and etc. etc. etc. First of all, the Christian religion is considered valid and true by millions of people around the planet, even if many people in hc/punk reject it. Guess what? The Spice Girls are considered gifted entertainers by millions of people around the planet, too. Punks and hardcore kids who don’t want to listen to the Spice Girls aren’t considered trendy or hateful. Besides, you can safely assume that most of the non-Christian kids within hc/punk were Christians at one time, and they either rejected Christianity after careful consideration or they rejected it because it was trendy. If the latter is true, then is that the kind of flighty, flaky believer you really want on your side — someone who will jump back on the Christian bandwagon as soon as atheism becomes unpopular again? If the former is true, then it’s a bit disrespectful to say that someone who has spent a lot of time considering their beliefs is simply climbing aboard the trendy train. In addition, you must recognize that there is a difference between someone who recently saw Bad Religion on MTV and someone who has considered and appreciated the critiques offered by groups like Crass or Catharsis. The bottom line is this: the default religion for the majority of people in Western society is Christianity, so to work your way free of this omnipresent belief system is to resist the ultimate trend.
“I want you to know that I’m praying for you.”
“Repent or burn in Hell.”
“Jesus loves you.”
“God hates you.”
Thanks, but I really don’t care. Please limit your responses to the scope of my argument and don’t bother with the strictly religious messages. It really, truly has no effect on me. Honest.
“I’m a Christian and I will kick your ass if I ever meet you.”
Thanks for proving all of my points for me. People like you are the best possible evidence for acceptance of my argument.
“I’m not a Christian, but you are a PC loser who takes things too seriously.”
Fuck you. Oops, I mean … you sound like the type of person who enjoys hc/punk simply as another lifestyle choice, one that you will quickly abandon for the likes of No Limit or Bad Boy or alternative country or house music. Besides, I love hc/punk, so of course I’m going to seriously examine important issues that affect hc/punk. People who don’t take hc/punk seriously are the ones who really threaten its consistency and integrity. So yeah, fuck you.
“Your publication is hate literature against Christians.”
I think this criticism is way out of line. Hate literature is written by right-wing fascists and it’s filled with calls for mass murder of minorities. Books like “Why I Am Not A Christian” and essays like this one are not hate literature. Get a grip.
“You are a fascist who is trying to force his beliefs on others. You’re just as bad as the (Christians, Nazis, or whatever).”
As I stated earlier, I don’t want to deprogram all Christians and force them to profess atheism. I simply want them to recognize that their religion and our culture are not compatible. Christians (and all people) are welcome to believe whatever they want, even in the face of convincing arguments to the contrary. But just as they have a right to their incorrect beliefs, I have a right to criticize them. There is nothing fascist about rational critiques of very public belief systems, nor is there anything unfair about announcing the incompatibility between two cultures.
“Have you ever considered the possibility that Christians may be right?”
Why yes, as a matter of fact I have. You see, I used to be a Christian myself. I was a Christian for seventeen years, but it was careful and rational arguments such as these that convinced me that I was wrong.
“Good job on that essay. I hate Christians. They are stupid.”
No, you are stupid for refusing to see Christians as fellow human beings. Give them a break — they are trapped in the same society that the rest of us are, a society where a majority of people call themselves Christian, where public officials fall all over each other to be more Christian than the next, where we all get major Christian holidays off from school and work and where prayer and Biblical commandments get tossed around in public discourse. I believe that most people are basically Christian by default — they don’t really believe in Christ/God and all of his holy rules and regulations, they just sort of go through the motions and hope that something bad doesn’t happen. In addition, by writing off all Christians as “stupid,” you are neglecting the great contributions that many Christians have made to radical/leftist/liberal causes that you’d probably support, such as the dismantling of the U.S. war machine, civil rights for blacks and gays, freedom for political prisoners, autonomy for indigenous people, and so on.
“If hardcore/punk is about rebellion, then why are there so many trends within hardcore/punk?”
In my opinion, people within hc/punk who consistently hop from trend to trend are as far away from the original spirit of the movement as Christians are. Let me ask you this: if a capitalist society such as the United States sets aside a meager percentage of its vast resources for quasi-socialist programs, does that mean that the society at large is no longer capitalist? Of course not. In the same way, the existence of mindless sheep within hc/punk does not mean that hc/punk itself is allied with conformity. In fact, I would argue that the mindless sheep within hc/punk are highly likely to convert to Christianity if it ever becomes fashionable to do so.
“What about the various civil rights movements? Many of them are strongly based in Christian ideals and those movements was all about rebellion.”
My position is that people who defy authority and also claim to be Christians are contradicting themselves. The Bible could not possibly be more explicit on this issue (see section 9). Plus you should realize that radicals in the civil rights movement were very often not Christians at all. Many pioneers of the early women’s suffrage movement vociferously criticized Christianity. Malcolm X and other black radicals attacked Christianity in their speeches and writings. While it’s true that individual Christians often performed radical acts of defiance (such as the priests and nuns who struggled against U.S. intervention in Indochina and Central America), the vast majority of Christians were usually close to whatever conciliatory pro-reform/anti-revolution wing existed in any civil rights movement.
The point is moot, anyway — Christians don’t get involved in politics because they personally believe it’s the right thing to do, they get involved because they believe God thinks it’s the right thing to do, which is entirely different (see section 10). Besides, if Christianity was fundamentally about human rights and equality, then (a) all Christians would agree on such issues, which they don’t; and (b) the Bible would support such concepts instead of contradicting them, which it doesn’t.
“You can’t kick Christians out of the scene. Who are you to tell them to leave?”
I’m not trying to kick anyone out of the scene, nor do I encourage anyone else to do so. I am trying to point out that their beliefs are incompatible with hc/punk and that they are better off removing themselves from the scene. If they want to stay, fine; but they have to live with the astounding contradictions they embody merely by their presence within the scene.
“Your pamphlet made a lot of sense to me. But I love Jesus as much as I love hc/punk and I don’t want to give up either one.”
“I agree that there is a contradiction, but now what? What do we do about it?”
If you are content to contradict yourself by participating in an ancient religion which requires total obedience and a modern culture which encourages disobedience, that is your business. Some may call you “hypocrite,” but I’ll just call you “confused and self-contradictory.” As far as what we “do” about the contradiction, we don’t do anything. We wait for the Christians to figure it out while we continue on our merrily antiauthoritarian, blasphemous, joyful ways.