The purpose of this publication is to critically examine Christianity, particularly as it intersects with the hardcore/punk scenes in the United States. In recent years, Christianity has found firmer footing within the various hardcore and punk subcultures (referred to hereafter as “hc/punk”), giving birth to record labels, bands, and zines which carry the banner of Christian belief. This essay is for everybody within the hc/punk scene, Christians and nonChristians alike, but it was primarily written for the nonChristians who think that it’s OK for Christians to proselytize in punk.
Many people are unwilling to criticize Christianity in hc/punk for several reasons. First, they feel that each of us has a right to believe as we please. Second, they believe that the ideals of hc/punk are not in conflict with the ideals of Christianity, and therefore there is no point in raising criticism.
I agree with the former point — each of us does have a right to believe as we please, and this publication will not argue that Christians have no right to their beliefs and practices. However, I disagree with the latter point. I am certain that Christianity is in direct conflict with hc/punk in a number of important ways — and just as Christians have a right to believe as they wish, I also have a right to criticize their beliefs. This publication will explain my point of view.
In addition, I do not think that all Christians are stupid, ignorant or shortsighted, but I do think that they are all wrong. Not bad, not immoral, not evil — just wrong, in the same way that someone who believes in magical pink unicorns or a flat Earth is also wrong.
The fact that Christians are wrong does not prevent them from performing good works, nor does it detract from the value of some of their benevolent activities. There are many Christian groups who have done far more to change the world for the better than hc/punk has; this is not, as I shall demonstrate, simply because they are Christians, but rather because they have consciously selected a set of (not exclusively Christian) values that result in good works.
However, intense proselytization nearly always accompanies such good works. One could make the argument that Christian conversion campaigns are among their worst crimes, as countless cultures and religions have been pushed to the brink of obscurity or lost forever by Christian missionaries eager to bring the word of God to all corners of the planet. For every impoverished community where Christians have built schools or provided food and clothing, there has been a simultaneous attack on the local culture, traditions and beliefs insofar as they conflict with the ideals of the missionaries’ particular Christian sect.
Benevolent or progressive Christianity (as embodied by the Bruderhof, Quakers, leftist Catholics, etc.) necessarily coexists with malevolent Christianity — for example, the Christian Reconstruction movement, “pro-life” assassins and bombers, fundamentalist bigots, hysterical anti-Semitism, and so on. This is because “good” Christians and “bad” Christians have something in common: their belief in God, Christ and the Bible. All that is different is their interpretation. As long as there is belief in God, Christ and the Bible, there will be horrifying acts of ignorance and violence performed in God’s name, just as there will be inspirational acts of healing and compassion. Two thousand years of Christian history have proven this to be true. For every St. Francis of Assisi, there is a Torquemada; for every Martin Luther King Jr., there is a Jesse Helms; for every John Brown, there is a Jefferson Davis. For every pious slave, an equally pious slavemaster; for every sheep, a wolf.
It is for this reason that atheists and other non-Christians within hc/punk must engage Christians in respectful but intense debate and criticism. It is not productive to simply dismiss Christianity as “stupid” as Negativland does, to say “Fuck God” as Hellnation does, or to condemn all Christians for the acts of a few extremist right-wingers. We must provide a thoughtful critique of Christianity itself within hc/punk — which is what I intend to do.