Demonize: to try to make someone or a group of people seem completely evil
Jesus was a weird guy. He did weird things. Possibly the weirdest, short of coming back from the dead, was like people he was not supposed to like. Tax collectors, Samaritans, prostitutes, gentiles….in other words people like you.
His followers often fail to embrace his weirdness.
One of our great problems is the failure to see others as human, especially if we disagree with them. So we use emotionally charged labels to describe them. Communist, atheist, fascist, Nazi, Muslim, Jew, queer, wetback, Mexican, Irish, Okie, hillbilly, nigger. We have always done it, its not anything new.
But these words ignore that they are human and humans are inherently valuable. Even when labels are self chosen we distort them, injecting them with emotional venom, and use them among those we think agree with us to slander people who do not. Worse we use it as an excuse to not help those who need it because we can add words like “lazy”, “undeserving”, or “just how they are.”
This activity is inherently anti-Christian. There are no excuses, no explanations acceptable.
Ignorance plays a huge part in this. We do not know what others actually think or why they have the opinions that they do. We also think that our opinions are informed and rational and ignore the flaws. We fail to know why people are in the positions they are in. We fail to open our eyes and look.
We do it because trying to see people as people, to consider ideas with which we initially disagree, and to look past stereotypes is hard. It requires mental and emotional work that is difficult. Worse yet is the possibility that we might be wrong, and if we are wrong about one thing we might be wrong about others.
Our views of others become tied to our own self identity, frequently fragile. We are not so afraid to open our eyes to the value of others as we are to doubt ourselves.
Far easier to paint them as caricatures, as straw men easy to defeat.
Or as demons, easy to hate.