Generally, I’ve noticed that people often associate the word “Christian” with being good or having many positive characteristics. So by putting the word in front of another, it instantly made that following word just a little more positive. I usually disagree with that generalization of the word, especially in certain cases.
I was lucky growing up that I had a mother that was Christian and didn’t have a “Christian mother”. That may sound a bit weird, but I think there’s a big distinction. My mother did take us to church and Sunday school, but she never really pushed it on us. Christianity wasn’t a constant thing for us, mom had a few moments where she got a little more interested and looked into Christian books. There were a few “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Amy Grant CD’s in our house, but that light sprinkling of Christianity was as far as mom pushed it for us besides going to church. I can vaguely remember her moments of interest in being more religious, but she never tried to drag me and my brother into it. She was very accepting of the things my brother and I were interested in even if she didn’t really get them, but I also got some of the things I like from her. She’s partly to blame for my love of “The Muppets” and “Star Trek”. So it’s of course possible for religious parents to raise their kids to be freethinkers.
I consider a “Christian mother” to be the type of mom that’s overbearing and controlling when it comes shoving Christianity down their kids’ throats. This type of mom typically monitors the types of things their kids are exposed to, like banning certain cartoons because their Pastor or a Christian website told them it was “of the devil”. They also make the child’s whole world focused on their faith, with things such as faith-based education, only Christian entertainment like Christian music and shows, and closely monitoring who their friends are. There are varying degrees of this type of mom in different sects of Christianity; personally I’ve noticed this sort of parenting mostly in the Evangelical community. (Good example of this is the documentary “Jesus Camp”) When I was a kid, I noticed that the families that were really into church were a bit on the bland side. Something about being really Christian makes people wear really boring and sometimes unflattering clothes. They also manage to find hair salons where their specialty is styles that are out of date and never looked good in the first place. So I always felt bad for kids who had a mom like that, and I still do. Sometimes the kids get brainwashed and become Christians like their parents, but sometimes they rebel and break away from their parents’ lifestyle and beliefs. Besides the fact they typically have a terrible taste in fashion and entertainment, I often find them creepy. In terms of a scary type of person, I think the Christian mother is pretty high up there for me.
There are some fictional ones that are pretty scary, like Carrie’s mom in the Stephen King classic “Carrie” for example. She essentially was responsible for turning Carrie into a monster. She scared me a lot, but I remember a real life Christian mom that terrified me in my early teens. I remember the news reports about Andrea Yates shocked me, how could a mother drown her five kids? She had a history of mental illness that had been masked by her religiosity; she also didn’t seek proper treatment for a long time because the extreme version of Christianity she was following didn’t approve of taking medications. During a psychotic break she thought she had to kill her kids to send them to heaven because they were still in the “age of innocence”, implying that they would have gone to hell if they had a chance to live into their adulthood. Another real life example is Carri Williams, whose adopted daughter Hana died due to hypothermia compounded by malnutrition and gastritis thanks to the abuse caused by Carri and her husband. Her Christian mothering style was based on lessons from the now infamous fundamentalist book “To Train up a Child”, and other deaths and abuse have been connected to the book. I’m not saying that every Christian mom out there has the potential to be abusive, psychotic, and/or a murderer. There are just good examples of religious belief getting out of hand and some aspects of the doctrine being very dangerous. I know there are many Christian moms that try to push the positive messages of Christianity and are very sane and intelligent, and I commend them for it. But I also think there much better things out there for kids to learn from than the bible. Often, things like child abuse and mental illness go unnoticed in Christian households because the religious façade they present to the world around them. Back to my original point, the stereotype that “Christian” means good can be detrimental. Sometimes dangerous ideas can go out of control in the hands of the wrong person, and problems can be masked by cultural assumptions. I also think this is a great example of why questioning people’s religious beliefs should no longer be taboo.