According to a study done by the Pew Research Center in 2014, 70.6% of Americans identified as Christians, making it the largest religious group in America. However, I believe that there are still a number of incorrect stereotypes about Christians believed by irreligious and people of religions different than Christianity. In this short essay, I will attempt to pinpoint and correct many common stereotypes in order to show people what Christians are really like and what the Christian religion is all about.
Firstly, I would like to thank @PenguinAttack, @TheSilverFox, @Lightsong, @KaraStevens, and @Feltrix for their input. It helped me to roughly gauge different people's opinions. I am not attacking or trying to prove my correctness when I debate with their opinions, and I am not attempting to convert them. With that said, I will be addressing some of the points they have made and discussing them here.
To begin, @PenguinAttack stated in her comment, "Christians are awful. Evangelisation is part of Christian messages, the need to go out and convert people. . . You see it everywhere, Christians are preachy - they go door to door with their bibles and their intents. The basis of Christianity (notably, I am not referring to the Hebrew scriptures particularly here) is not particularly kind to women and to those who are not straight or binary. Modern Christianity is by degrees better - tho again notably one cannot ignore that the Catholic church (leader of the largest Christian denomination in the world) is rife with corruption[.]" [sic].
The first part of PenguinAttack's comment was correct- evangelizing is something that Christians are taught to do. I will be referring to the Bible, the book that Christians are instructed to live by, as proof for what Christians are supposed to believe and act like. In Matthew 28:18-20, it says "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” So yes, Christians are instructed to tell the world about Christian religions. However, Christians are not supposed to do this with an attitude of "You're wrong, I'm right, so listen to me." I believe the majority of Christians who preach to others do it because they want others to find the same joy they have in Jesus.
Furthermore, I believe that a better way of carrying out this commandment is to show and not tell. The same principle that applies in writing that I, admittedly, preach to all writers applies here. It's much more effective to show people how happy you are by always smiling and behaving with an attitude of love than to simply say, "I am happy." It's much more convincing to show people what a difference Christianity has made in your life by giving to the poor with a smile on your face, by refusing to succumb to temptation, by doing your best to know and follow the commandments than to simply say, "Christianity makes me so happy."
But even if it can become annoying when five people knock on your door with huge smiles spread across their faces, proclaiming their joy, I think it serves us good to remember that they are doing what they think is best. They have good intentions- to give you the same joy they have. So although door-to-door ministries may be obnoxious at times and possibly not the greatest way of presenting their religion, hopefully it benefits you to think of why they are doing this and to be encouraged by their faith and their contagious joy.
Now to address the second part of PenguinAttack's comment- "The basis of Christianity is not particularly kind to women"-, I would disagree. PenguinAttack did mention that she was not referring to the Hebrew scriptures, which I'm assuming to mean the Old Testament, but even the New Testament shows stunning compassion to women.
Although PenguinAttack did not claim that the Old Testament was unkind to women, I believe that many people who share similar opinions to her will not be making that distinction and as such I would like to address it. Here is just one example of many situations where the laws laid out in the Pentateuch show remarkable kindness towards women.
Deuteronomy 22:28 says: "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives." While this passage may seem harsh by our modern cultural beliefs, during the Old Testament times this showed remarkable compassion. This verse means that the man who raped the woman cannot treat her as an animal or a piece of property. Rather, he must treat her as a virgin. Virginity in ancient times had much more significance than it does today. If an unmarried woman was not a virgin, it was very hard for her to find a husband and her only two options for work would likely be prostitution or slavery. This verse is giving the man both a monetary fine and a lifelong commitment as punishment for his actions. As with previous verses that state that the woman shall not be punished for being raped, this passage shows that the woman is innocent. In a true situation of rape, the woman has committed no crime and therefore should not be given a punishment, even an indirect one that will cause her to suffer for the sin committed against her.
The 'basis' of Christianity is that all can be saved through God's free gift of salvation through Christ Jesus' sacrifice. One important thing to note about this is how it refers to all people. Not just Jews, not just Romans, not just whites, not just males, but everyone. No one is excluded from this gift. Another verse that shows just how much God cares for women is found in Ephesians 5:22-23. This verse says, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." This sets up the family so that although wives are to submit to their husbands, their husbands are also taught to love and respect them as a valuable and precious gift from the Lord and not a piece of property. Women are given more rights in Christianity than many other religions.
Regarding PenguinAttack's comment about homosexuality and their treatment, I believe that everyone should be treated with love and acceptance in the church. The Bible instructs us to be loving to our neighbors (Mark 12:31) regardless of their sins, but also to hate sin (Psalm 97:10). That being said, the Bible makes it clear in both the Old and New Testament that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of the Lord. In an ideal church setting, homosexuals would not be condemned or preached at, but rather accepted and loved like any other. Therefore, the bad treatment of homosexuals is not a shortcoming of the Christian religion, but rather of Christians themselves.
And in regards to the Catholic church's corruption, I agree with you there. I am a Protestant Christian, and I should have made it more clear that I am debating from a Protestant standpoint. That was a shortcoming on my part, and I apologize for any uncertainty that may have arisen because of that.
Hopefully my essay cleared up some misconceptions about Christianity so that this religion may be presented in a more fair light. I especially focused on @PenguinAttack's comment, but future essays will be more general and less directed towards one person's specific point of view. Regardless of your convictions, it is only fair to express each religion's exact beliefs so that those who believe it and those who do not fully understand the arguments being made for both ways.