What strikes me most often talking with Christians is how deeply and thoroughly their outlook on life is permeated by fear. Fear of God and fear of death most obviously: all Christian love, charity, community, cooperation is founded explicitly on the fear of God and judgment after death. One need only look at the vapidity and superficiality of the Christian heaven versus the depth of imagination and sadistic detail of the Christian hell to see that fear, not hope, governs the Christian mind.
But not just the big fears, but the little fears too: fear of change, fear of sex, fear of women, fear of the foreigner and other races, fear of poverty, fear of ostracism; also the superstitious fears: fears of demons, curses and witches. (Many of my own family, well-educated scientifically literate middle-class white Americans all, talk about these superstitious fears in the same matter-of-fact voice that we talk about carpets and cantaloupes.)
The most notable fear is the fear of real freedom, of acknowledging that at the end of the day each person is accountable finally and only to his or her own conscience. To a Christian it is a trope that a person accountable only to his own conscience will necessarily and inevitably commit the most wildly immoral acts: break the sabbath, have sex for fun, fail to tithe, sass the priests, turn pedophile priests into the cops, eat meat on Friday*, eat pork, drink, masturbate and commit even that most heinous and unforgivable sin: denying the holy spirit**. It's inconceivable to a Christian that someone can feel actual empathy for another human being. To a Christian, that empathy is just an act put on in fear of a savage and vengeful God. He knows the falsity of his own feelings; it's inconceivable that another could be sincere.
*Yes, I know, it's no longer a matter of Catholic doctrine.
**Whatever the fuck that means.
I don't hate Christians, but I do pity them and hold them in contempt. How terrible it must be to live your life in fear. I have contempt and disdain too for those who live in fear, for the slave who has so internalized his shackles that he cannot escape even when the shackles of mere iron are cast off. But the admixture of pity keeps the contempt from turning into hatred. And, too, I know and face my fears, and hatred is just the expression of hidden fears.
I have contempt and disdain too because — besides the sword — contempt, not reason or tolerance, is in the end what effects social and personal change. It is only when the king or priest is held in contempt, as an object of ridicule, that he no longer commands the subservience of his subjects. It is only when the racist, the sexist, the bigot is pointed to and laughed at that he conceals his bigotry instead of teaching to his children and endorsing it in his community.
All the Christian — indeed any slave — gives me to work with is his fear. The most benign fear I can work with is the fear of ridicule, and ridicule seems more benign than the fears at the top of the Christian toolbox: torture, death and eternal damnation.