Monday, August 10, 2009

Low Offense Threshold

There have been several stories in the news lately about the super religious in this country taking offense to various messages. Such as the Iowa Bus Ad Campaign. Seems that even when the message is intended to be non-offensive, people take offense anyways.

I am under the impression that just being openly atheist is enough to deeply offend the religiously sensitive. I think I'll have a tee-shirt made that says this:

Some people don't believe in God.

I bet even that simple statement of fact will deeply offend someone. As a matter of fact, that would make a great experimental billboard to test just how low the offense threshold is.

I remember as a young boy, I was put off by the high sensitivity to offense that I saw in church and with my parents. It was almost abuse to me how easily I could offend other christians. I was often punished severely over simple misunderstandings, because someone was offended. I grew up to be a very timid and depressed young man afraid to talk to anyone.

In my opinion, if your beliefs can satnd stand up to inquiry, there's no need ever to be offended.


PersonalFailure said...

Honestly, it's like telling my grandma some people don't like lasagna. The woman would probably go slit her wrists, and I didn't even say that some people don't like her lasagna, just that some people don't like lasagna in general.

I think I'll wear a shirt that says, "Somewhere, there is someone who doesn't entirely agree with you".

Savonarola said...

I think it was Carlin who pointed out that you can be critical of all sorts of subjects that would seemingly be rather sensitive (politics, a bad haircut, personal hygiene), but the response to religion is unique. Even with politics, there tends to be some discussion of points (or at least pseudo-points), but people simply get pissy when religion is questioned.
The theist reaction to non-theist signs (be they on buses or billboards or t-shirts) illustrates this eloquently.

All you can really do is stand there and shake your head in disgust as someone rants and raves about disrespect and people hating Christianity and religious intolerance and atheism taking over because s/he saw a t-shirt that says "there might be no god" ... that was bought with currency that had "In God We Trust" stamped all over it.

Mark Morrison said...


You may be suprised to find that I have no problem with the signs. We Christians need to stop with politics and get back to the basics. If we are really concerened about people going to Hell that should be our message.


Anonymous said...

I think it's admirable that people are "offended for Jesus." That is the difference between offense in religion vs. other topics. These people aren't offended for themselves, but rather for their Savior. Similar to how you are less offended if someone says something about you personally than if they were to say something about your mother or sister.

Robert Madewell said...


I'm talking about a low threshold for offense. I agree that some things may be offensive, but how far do you take it. Should you be offended because I say that I don't believe in God (while you believe in God)? Is that actually an offense? Well, I know of alot of christians who have been offended for that reason alone.

Would you be offended by my hypothetical tee-shirt?

"Some people do not believe in God"

Why should a simple neutral statement of fact be offensive? The statement doesn't even say anything about the person wearing it. It just states a truth. I want to know. Do you think that is offensive?

Anonymous said...

No, I don't. That's a fact. Some people don't believe in God.

Robert Madewell said...

Exactly, anon!

That's my point. If it's offensive then let us call it offensive, but if it's a simple statement of fact, why be offended.

See, I understand why someone would be offended if a sign said:

If you believe in God, you are stupid.

But what is so offensive about this?

Don't believe in God? You are not alone.

Again, it's a simple statement of fact. If you don't believe in God, you are not alone. This is as much of a fact as my statement.

My opinion is that there's less offense taken than what it seems. There are just a few that are ultra-sensitive and they are the loud ones. Also, some people just don't want to see atheists express themselves. The fact that someone who is openly atheist is reaching out to others is probably more offensive (to some) than the actual message is.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't find that type of sign offensive. I wouldn't want to drive by it all the time, but I hate driving by all the alcohol ones too.

I think the folks offended by such things are more offended that anyone created by God would dare say they don't believe in him. Like I was saying in a previous post, it's more an offense on God's behalf, instead of a personal thing.

In our country, you have every right to put up a sign like that. I don't like it, but that doesn't make it illegal.

Robert Madewell said...

"I think the folks offended by such things are more offended that anyone created by God would dare say they don't believe in him."

But, you're the one who keeps spouting that God created me. That's your "theory", not mine. I just don't believe you. It sounds more like indignation to me. It's more like, "How can he not believe the way I do!"

"Like I was saying in a previous post, it's more an offense on God's behalf, instead of a personal thing."

Why does God need fallible, sinful, imperfect humans to defend him? I would imagine that if he exists, that he'd be quite capable of sticking up for himself.

Listen, we live in a world of diversity. Everybody needs to recognize that. As long as any cultural group is demonized, there'll be the roots of hate. Our kids need to be taught that there are people who believe differently and that it's OK and that they are not evil for being different. Peace depends on that.

When someone is offended and outraged by a display of diversity, they are demonizing someone. That's the point.

Anonymous said...

Different does not immediately equal evil. You are correct about that.

God doesn't NEED me to defend Him. I choose to because I love Him. Just as I'd defend any loved one even if they were more than capable of defending themself.

You mistake true passion for indignation. I get the same feeling from macroevolutionists. I've said it before, but it's worth repeating. I love you just the same as I love my Christian brothers and sisters. It is simply your belief in nature over God that I don't care for. I can't get behind any belief that the creation is greater than the Creator.

I am going to take this opportunity to say I won't be revisiting this blog. I have put in much time here trying to lead you to the truth, and I still pray you'll get there, but I can't devote time to a hardened heart when there are people in this world who have never even heard the gospel. The fields are ripe with harvest, and a laborer could be better used elsewhere.

Robert Madewell said...

Oh come on, Anon!

To me, it's not about trying to convince anyone. Honest discussion is what I'm about and you were having it.

Well, I guess it's goodbye then.

Good Luck.

ethinethin said...

Good riddance. I guess we win.

FireMountainHalo said...

The premise of your post seems to be that its not a good thing to be offended too easily, and i wholeheartedly agree. I am a christian but i like to think i spend most my life not being offended, i mean it would take alot to offend me seriously. Like if i saw a sign that said "If you believe in God, you are stupid." id be too impressed that someone had the audacity to print such a thing to be offended. I think i would be more interested in having a discussion with the person who made the sign and if i was offended i wouldn't be able to just be myself and try to listen and understand why they think what they think and expect them to have the same respect for me. I guess the sign implies they wouldn't have the same respect for me but i just honestly wouldn't be offended by it and wouldn't want to waste my time feeling offended by something so trivial. I believe in freedom and liberty, and i know there can be a discussion on what that means exactly, but on a personal level i don't want to be under the oppression and negative feelings i feel that come with being offended, i mean it better be important and serious enough to warrant offense.

Robert Madewell said...

"Like if i saw a sign that said 'If you believe in God, you are stupid.' id be too impressed that someone had the audacity to print such a thing to be offended."

I would actually be offended by that message myself, even though I don't believe in God. Most of my friends and practically all of my family believe in God and I don't think there's one of them that I'd call stupid.

The belief in the supernatural is hardwired into the human brain. People who believe in a god are not stupid, they're human. Not believing in the supernatural is hard, even for me. I sometimes want to believe that there's more than just this. But, the evidence point to a universe ruled by nature.

ethinethin said...

How about this, one Robert:

"If you believe in god, you're PROBABLY stupid."

FireMountainHalo said...

In my life I've seen many people say they are offended by things and my reaction is that I just dont understand why it would offend them. I am a christian and that sign would not offend me, and you are an atheist and you say it would offend you. So i have to chalk this one up to another one I don't understand. I've learned that if someone tells me something offends them, if I try to tell them it shouldn't offend them, it doesn't help, and usually makes things worse. So I pretty much just respect what someone says even if I don't agree as long as they are not using it to infringe on me personally.