When I lived in England the Brits used to like to make fun of the typical Yank tourist. Earl would a portly fellow in his fifties, wearing dark knee socks, sandals, bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian beach shirt. With a pork pie hat and three cameras around his neck, he’d be puffing on a big cigar. His wife, Shirley, would have blue hair, dangling earrings, wear a polyester pantsuit, have a pretty large caboose and step off the tourist bus in front of the Houses of Parliament calling out, “Hey willya look at this Earl? It’s Oxford!!”

That is, if you like, the loud stupid American, and of course loud they are and stupid they are (or if not stupid, at least ignorant) It doesn’t take much imagination or observation to realize that every country has their equivalent. When the English would snort in snobbish derision at the loud stupid American I would ask what they thought of the stereotypical English person abroad. i was thinking of the lager swilling, tattooed, skinheaded, pot bellied football hooligans that terrorized most European countries every football season. I was thinking of the hordes of English tourists who flooded into the Mediterranean ports with their fat pasty white bodies crammed into awful swim suits, (if they wore any at all) boozing and bonking and behaving like brutes.
Every nationality or sub group has its bad examples. There are loud stupid people in every race, religion and nationality. There are also quiet, intelligent, tasteful and sensitive people in every race, religion and nationality. Most of all, in every race, religion and nationality the vast majority of people are neither particularly loud and stupid or quiet and smart. They’re just ordinary folks who want to follow their religion in peace and are happy to give other people who are different from them the same respect and freedom they wish for themselves.
In some of the cultural debates going on, what people seem to forget is that it is not common sense to brand everyone in another religion or race or nation as ‘loud and stupid’. It’s not quiet and smart to say that all Christians are loud and stupid or all English people are loud and stupid or all Americans are loud and stupid or all atheists are loud and stupid and so forth. To do so is, well, loud and stupid.
Are there some loud and stupid Christians? Of course. But it’s quiet and smart to forgive them, look past them and develop genuine curiosity and interest in the smart and quiet Christians. Are there loud and stupid atheists? Unfortunately so. I’m not really that interested in them. I’m interested in the quiet and smart atheists. I want to know why they don’t believe in God. I want to listen to their questions and listen to their complaints, and as a Christian who at least wants to be quiet and smart instead of loud and stupid, I want to answer their questions if I can, or at least posit some other questions for them.