Mollie Hemingway recently wrote an article for “The Federalist” titled “5 Most Cringeworthy Problems With Buzzfeed’s Viral ‘I’m a Christian, But I’m Not’, Video” (shown at the top of this page) and she wasn’t exactly what you’d call “complementary”. Now, If I’m being honest, I have to agree that the clip is a little douchey. Not in the evangelical/fundamentalist “I’m saved, but you’re all going to hell” way; more like the NALT project, which is just a little reminiscent of Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector. According to Hemingway, the video “was easily the most unintentionally hilarious, if shockingly bigoted, BuzzFeed video ever produced.” After watching it, I’m left wondering if Hemingway actually understands what “bigoted” really means. Or, “shockingly” either, for that matter.
I say that because the statement in question follows an extremely condescending dismissal of everything the people in the clip say. Displaying the (possibly) unwitting arrogance that seems to permeate conservative Christianity, she attempts to minimize the participants words with quotation marks, a strikeout and, that particulraly odious tool of rejection, ridiculing a person’s spelling/choice of words. Then, she lists the 5 most egregious things in the video. So, let’s take a look at what Ms. Hemingway considers cringeworthy:
- No Mention of Jesus
Hemingway claims, after referencing its text, that the video contains “Not a single mention of Jesus, the author and finisher of the Christian faith.” That’s not exactly true. Sure, no one mentions Jesus by name, but the J-man is all over this thing. Most notably in the statement, “love is the most important thing.” If I could talk to Hemingway (and the young woman who shared this and was a member of the youth group I worked with in the past), I’d tell her that Jesus isn’t constantly smacking us on the ass, yelling “Say my name, bitch!”
- No Diversity
Now, you may be wondering how a video about Christians that features people of color, people who are LGBT+ or who depart from the Church’s view on sex isn’t diverse (I know I was). But, here’s Hemingway’s problem: there are no “conservatives” in the cast. She even breaks it down by percentage, saying “At least 33 percent of those interviewed are LGBT (roughly 10 times the national average) and at least 50 percent are feminist (only 18 percent of Americans actually identify as feminist).” In other words, she’s arguing that the video isn’t “politically correct”; a concept she has a history of criticizing. Talk about “unintentionally hilarious”!
- Wow, Was It Bigoted
As I said earlier, I’m not sure if Hemingway knows what “bigoted” actually means. According to Merriam-Webster, it is an adjective for “bigot”, which is defined as ” a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” Does the video display some condescension? Absolutely. Does that condescension rise to the level of hate or intolerance? No, it doesn’t. Not once in this video does anyone claim that their belief is the right one, that everyone else is wrong, or show that they are “intolerantly devoted” to anything. They didn’t, as Hemingway infers, say that people who disagree with them are “homophobic, holier-than-thou, close-minded, unaccepting, uneducated, judgmental, conservative ignoramuses.” But, you know what they say; “A hit dog always howls.”
- Christianity Offends
Yes, it does. Hell, I’m a Christian and it offends me. Okay, to be more accurate, what currently passes for orthodox Christianity offends me. Why? Because it took a way of life based on unconditional love and turned it into a belief system incorporating a set of arbitrary rules designed to separate and control people. The real problem with the video is that it talks about a Christianity that’s radical and countercultural. And, that scares the shit out of people like Hemingway, a middle class white woman who is heavily invested in maintaining the status quo.
- It’s a Pharisee Prayer
In this item, we finally get to down Hemingway’s real issue with the video: sex. Yes, beloved, after all that other bullshit, it boils down when and with whom you choose to knock boots. I say that because, of all the issues she lists in her article, she uses sex to make her point, saying “The media wrongly think that any time you articulate Christian doctrine on sexuality—which is exacting and more or less completely contradictory to the way of the world—you’re putting yourself on a pedestal. That’s a childish reading of such articulation. And it completely ignores the point of Christianity, which is that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Two problems here: 1) Why do conservatives have such an obsession with sex? 2) The point of Christianity is “that while we were still sinners Christ died for us“? Shit, all this time, I thought it was “Love one another.” Boy, is my face red.
In her closing paragraph, Hemingway says “Let us all beware of smug complacency and measuring ourselves against others.” That may be the most clueless sentence in human history, because she writes it after spending over 1,800 words doing just that. If there’s any doubt, the last two sentences should clear things up: “Let’s join the tax collector and cry out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner! And forgive BuzzFeed while you’re at it—particularly when it comes to religious content, they could use your prayers.” I guess, as a “real” (i.e. conservative) Christian, Hemingway is in possession of the Truth and we should all listen to her. Especially those heathens at BuzzFeed.