One of the hallmarks of bigotry is the need for the bigot to identify the target group of being morally inferior to the bigots' group, thus making it legitimate to look down upon the target group, and to give them second-class status.
So, we get comments such as:
Do you have any idea how many untold thousands of lives have been saved by the loving action of Christians who have cared?
Here is where the bigot declares the moral inferiority of the 'others' that he seeks to target.
In fact, this sentence as a premise in an argument makes no sense unless we include a second, unspoken, premise to go along with it. It is in this second premise that the bigotry can be found.
Do you have any idea how many untold thousands of lives have been saved by the loving action of Christians who would not have otherwise been saved.
If these lives would have been saved anyway, then the argument grants no special advantage to Christianity.
It is only under the assumption that only Christians are interested in saving lives - and all others are happy to stand around and laugh or simply ignore those in danger - that the above statement carries any weight.
It is only under the assumption that 'we Christians' are the morally superior people who, in virtue of our disposition to save lives that no other people possess, that this argument can be taken to imply a difference between Christians and non-Christians.
There is one important point that I want to make about bigotry before I go much further. Bigotry is a particularly insidious immorality. The person who is a bigot can live the bulk of his or her life as a decent individual - giving to charity, taking care of their family, lending a hand to their neighbors (as long as they are the right neighbors) any time those neighbors are in need.
For example, America's founding fathers were, in some aspects, extremely admirable men. I admire and respect George Washington most for his decision not to become a king or a military dictator (because he could have done so and have been cheered for doing so). Similarly, there is much to respect not only in Thomas Jefferson's intellect, but in the fact that so much of it was focused less on his own benefit and more on the benefit of mankind.
Yet, we cannot ignore the fact that the declaration that "all men are created equal" was, indeed, meant to apply only to men - and not women, and not to blacks who were considered to be little more than animals with the capacity to speak.
When a person is raised in bigotry, that bigotry fits comfortably, like a well-worn shirt. It fits so comfortably that the wearer can barely imagine being without it. Certainly, nothing that fits so comfortably - that feels so right - cannot be wrong. This, of course, becomes one of the chief reasons why bigotry is so difficult to combat.
Before I close, I do want to add something:
Atheists are prone to the same types of bigotry as theists. It is all too common to read atheists proclaiming that being an atheist alone makes one superior to the (deluded, irrational, intellectually irresponsible) theist.
I find way too many arguments in which an atheist attempts to begin with premises identifying some evil done by a person who was religious, who then seek to cast the blame on religion in general. Which just as certainly qualifies as hate-mongering bigotry as attempts to take the evil done by some atheist or another and casting the blame on all atheists.
Whereas I recognize that most of my readers are atheists, and most of them are already overly disposed to hold bigoted and prejudicial attitudes towards theists, I am obligated to warn that this is not an argument against all theists. This is a fault with those theists who make arguments that only make sense under the bigoted assumption that the lives that Christians save would not have otherwise been saved.
Which is not all theists.
And those atheists who would want to take this posting as a criticism of all theists are as bad as that subset of theists that this post does criticize.