This is the sixth and final installment in our series exploring ideas put forth in the book UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity and Why It Matters by David Kinnaman and Dave Lyons (2007). The authors survey information gleaned from the Barna group to discuss some negative perceptions people have of Christians. These perceptions are important for believers to know and understand because they ask fundamental questions about the kind of Christian life and culture we are creating.
We decided to ask you what you think about these negative perceptions and if they ring true for today’s Christians. In our five previous issues, we have explored notions of Christians being hypocritical, too focused on converting people to Christianity, anti-homosexual, sheltered, and too political. Now we ask you our final question: Are Christians judgmental?
The following are some of your responses.
“It is true to a certain extent [that Christians are judgmental]. However, not all Christians are judgmental or fall into this stereotype. I think the Christians that do not fall into this stereotype are not as outspoken because they choose to be humble and keep it to themselves. It is between God and that individual person. Hence the phrase, ‘Only God can judge me.’ It is the pride of the individual Christian that causes the stereotype in the first place.” –Ron Bautista, Carson, CA
“I would say that hypocrites within the Christian religious organization probably have [been] given a reputation for being judgmental through their actions, but I don’t think they’re behaving like Christ when they do that. So they’re not behaving like followers of Christ. I think those of us that are judgmental don’t deserve the label of Christ-followers.” –Joey Geisel, Arlington, TX
“I would say not inherently so. I’d say that those two things [being Christian and being judgmental] don’t necessarily go together. I think there’s definitely a stereotype that [Christians] are and I think the question is, ‘Why is there that stereotype?’
I find that a lot of people assume that Christians are judgmental and I find that offensive in some ways. I also find that when people are actually judgmental, I do find that offensive as well. So, I would say that being Christian doesn’t mean being judgmental. Being non-Christian doesn’t mean being judgmental.
I feel like you can be judgmental of different things at different levels. I don’t think it’s an on/off switch. I think you get into real trouble generalizing any sub-group of people as judgmental.” –Jonathan Bourland, New York, NY
“‘Oh, my. Yes. Can I say, ‘duh?’ Yes. Christians are judgmental. [I say that because] I am one and I am judgmental. I think we all find ourselves as humans who happen to be saved [those who live the lifestyle of knowing and loving God] having that “sanctified, better than you” attitude every once in a while. There are very few of us who are actually humble enough to remember that the only difference between us and people who are not Christians is that we’ve asked for forgiveness [from God]. And sometimes it’s a little harder than others to remember that, depending on who you’re dealing with. Unfortunately, that may be another Christian! If Christians weren’t judgmental, wouldn’t we have a much more peaceful world?” –Krista Fortune, Bedford, TX
“I think probably Western Christians more than Eastern Christians in the world in general [are judgmental]. I think that has more to do with the fact that our ability to know about Christ is easier for us in America than in the rest of the world.” –Lori Black Fort Worth, TX
“Christians as a group aren’t any more judgmental than groups of other faiths. Individuals from Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or any other religious group or sect are just as likely to wrongly or rashly judge others. The fact of the matter is being ‘judgmental’ is not an issue faced by a single group of believers but what the entire human race contends with. If this were not true, then why do so many religions address being ‘judgmental’ as an undesirable trait which should be avoided?” –Chris Martin, Carson, CA
“People who say that are just trying to denigrate Christians because they’re frightened of the truth. Proclaiming the truth [the way to live directed by God through the Bible] can look like a judgmental thing to worldly eyes. But, I’m not the one who judges. God is the judge. I can’t change God’s laws to say this person or that person is okay so that they feel better. I have to speak the truth in love. If someone feels I’m judging them when I do that, I can’t much help it, except to say that God is the judge. Not me.” –Bruce C., Oklahoma City, OK
“It is our human nature as people to judge, categorize and label one another based on past experiences, first impressions or what we see in the media. In essence, everyone is judgmental to a certain extent. A Christian in general would try to live a life without judging, but once he or she does, they are immediately called on it. If say someone else [non-Christian] were to judge someone, society would view it as being normal. No one is perfect. It is striving for perfection that makes a person different. Christians may be judgmental, but so is the person who is saying that they are judgmental.” –Andrew Argel, Carson, CA
“I don’t think you can make a big, sort of, blanket statement like that, you know? It depends on the person or where they come from or how they’re raised or any number of factors. You might find Christians over here who are very judgmental and another group over here who aren’t. And one person’s idea of what’s judgmental may not be the same as what someone else thinks. It’s like asking if teenagers are petty or if Southerners are slow. It’s just a stereotype.” –Chris Sands, Dallas, TX
“People definitely see [Christians] that way. I think a better question is, ‘What does that say about us and how well we’re embodying Christ in our world?” –Melissa Ling, Los Angeles, CA