Why Do Churches Treat People Like Kids?

By Hemant Mehta

After hearing a megachurch pastor treat his congregation like “a group of nine-year olds,” popular Christian writer Don Miller discovered that church is not the place to go if you want to hear anything intelligent:

To say evangelicals are dumb is to say too much. It’s hard to imagine a greater academic culture than evangelicals enjoy. We literally have thousands of schools and even more annoyingly combative scholars, always at each other’s throats over whether the Anti-Christ will enter the world on a Thursday.

So here is what I surmised: American culture has become a consumer culture, and a large demographic within the culture simply does exactly what they are told, as long as what they are told promises a payoff of some sort. They do not ask questions. They trust you if you seem trustworthy. Many evangelical leaders, then, simply become info-mercial-type salesman, selling their understanding of the truth to this large demographic. Most of them are extremely well intentioned, and do remarkable ministry around the world for the poor. The dumbing down of what we must loosely call truth is just a sign of the times.

I can’t tell how sarcastic that first paragraph above is, but I’ve never associated evangelical Christianity with anything academic, unless they were trying to destroy the education system by inserting lies about evolution and Intelligent Design, trying to suppress information about sex education, or wasting time by inserting moments of silence in the classroom.

But Miller is right about a certain segment of America that doesn’t ask questions and trusts anyone who sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.

These people go to church on a regular basis.

They’re not the skeptics who question authority and search for the real truth instead of the one that’s spoon-fed to you by some guy on stage who doesn’t know any more than you do, but sure as hell sounds like he does.

Not all atheists are smart, and there are plenty of intelligent Christians, but if you want to get a real education that’s based in reality and evidence instead of mythology, church is not the place to go.

Come to think of it, what would a pastor have to say that wouldn’t be considered dumbed-down?

It’s interesting reading the comments on Don’s post and watching Christians try to defend the rhetoric they hear in church.

It makes you wonder: How many of them know it’s B.S. but never say a word about it? How many refuse to challenge the pastor over what he says? How many of them keep attending church even though they roll their eyes at the idiotic things these pastors want them to do?

You’re better off reading a book about science. Or going to a library. Or you can do just about anything you haven’t done before.

To answer Miller’s question, “Are Evangelicals Getting Dumber?” I can do it without snark.

They’re not getting dumber. They’re the same people they’ve always been.

If anything, the pastors are getting smarter. They’re better than ever at convincing large masses of people that they know what the Truth is. And the people are falling for it.

Hemant Mehta is the author of I Sold My Soul on eBay and blogs for FriendlyAtheist.com.