Wednesday, July 13, 2005

On Christian "Persecution"

I can't resist commenting on the notion that Christians are the victims of wholly unprovoked bashing/criticism/prejudice. Every time I hear the claim, I'm amazed at the incredulity expressed. The "bashing" going on, here in 2005, is simple backlash.

While conservative Christians regularly complain about activism and "social engineering" attempts on the part of "liberals", the claim is hypocrisy at its finest. It's not as if members of the radical right have been quietly and piously going about their lives and ways of worship for the last couple of decades. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The Holly Roller Top 10

  1. I recall, with vivid clarity, hearing the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, The Traditional Values Coaltion, et al, condemn all but their own members on a regular basis. Or the multiple episodes of Pentecostal histrionics and assorted televangelists screaming across the airwaves that all non-believers are destined for damnation. There was nothing welcoming or comforting about this "ministering". It was insulting, patronizing, and completely demoralizing. Interesting how several of these televangelists were later caught engaging in decidedly non-Christian pursuits (the lewd, lascivious and licentious).
  2. I remember suits & complaints brought by conservative Christian groups (and a generous splash of Tipper Gore) against musicians -- from John Denver to Judas Priest -- for the lyrical content of their recordings. I've watched conservative Christian groups repeatedly try to ban books like "Of Mice and Men", To Kill a Mockingbird", "Fahrenheit 451", "The Martian Chronicles", "Brave New World", "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Catcher in the Rye" (though the complete list is seemingly endless). All the while steadfastly clinging to their right to first Amendment protections.
  3. I've listened to these groups and their followers lobby, sometimes successfully, for the inclusion of creationism in science classes, despite the near universal opposition of educators and scientists. I find it particularly amusing that the folks insisting that global warming theories are "junk science" are very often the same people that have no trouble at all with the junk science of creationism
  4. I've watched these same organizations vehemently demand "abstinence only" education (at the expense of all other forms of safe-sex ed), while the rates of teen STD infection continues to rise. Some of the especially laughable have gone so far as to insist that condoms are virtually useless for controlling the spread of HIV, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
  5. I've listened to these leaders accuse artists, musicians, health-care providers, liberals, environmentalists, social activists, movie producers/writers, even Disney, of being evil, of being irretrievably corrupt, of being "Tools of Satan", no less.All for the sin of a tolerant world view.
  6. I've watched Christian organizations fly into an absolute panic and organize protest over films like "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "Dogma" because they simply can't bear the commercial display of alternative views. The histrionics over the "Harry Potter" series of books is an amusing low point in their activist history.
  7. I've watched these organizations oust hard working, dedicated teachers from schools for being gay/lesbian or professing Wiccan/Neo-Pagan beliefs, despite the total absence of effect these persuasions have on their teaching or their students.
  8. I've been personally confronted in my youth, as a private individual and as an employee, by Christians claiming that my interest in metaphysical studies and eastern philosophies is an "affront to God", that I'm "worshipping the devil", that I'm "going to hell" and that I'm "bringing evil into the community".Why? For the egregious sins of wearing an occasional goddess pendant and working in metaphysical bookstores.
  9. I've seen self-professed Christians harass health care workers, bomb clinics and murder doctors.I've seen these people descend upon funerals of gays and lesbians, carrying signs that say "Got Hates Fags" and similar contemptible statements. 'Cause "God said homosexuality is an abomination", of course. Never mind the shellfish/mixed fiber/pig skin/Sabbath stuff, though.That’s antiquated, after all.
  10. And I've heard Pat Robertson, for instance, assert very plainly, that he and his Evangelical ilk want control over the U.S. government. Not a "role", not a "significant presence", not a "voice", but control over. On the whole, the most vociferous fundamentalists are a particularly scary group, seeking to create Bible-based local and federal policy on the grounds that they are mandated by God to do so. All the while sneering at the theocratic governments of the Middle East.
These examples are few, sadly, among hundreds. Some days I'm tempted to compile the "ultimate" list, but don't out of the fear of not being able to keep the despair off of my face and crushing my son's innocent optimism about life in the process.

These Thumpers assure me it's not a crusade. They assure me that they're actually quite tolerant of other beliefs, religions or perspectives. They assure me that they have no intention of shaping this country into a theocracy, provided we just quit bitching and let them legislate this bit of Scripture or that Commandment. After all, it's not as if their behavior has done anything but support these assurances, right? It's all about the acts, don't you know.

As to the typical rebuttals --
Naturally, not all Christians are like this. Of course, not all liberals are like Michael Moore either, but that doesn't stop them from being painted with the same brush, now does it? And certainly, there are plenty of Christians that have objections to the things above. Sadly, though, we don't hear from them very much. Instead, the majority of them appear to remain silent. And silence, no matter the reason, is tacit endorsement. Dress it up however you like, but that's how it looks from the outside.

That leaves us non-Christians to conclude what, other than that these views and actions are condoned by most Christians? That those in opposition are the exception, not the rule? Are Christians honestly surprised that they are, therefore, viewed by some as politically suspect? That they'd be able to engage in these behaviors with impunity? Please. You can't behave like a zealot and then feign shock when you're treated like a fanatic.

So, when Christians lament at being "persecuted", I'm honestly flabbergasted. I have to assume that they are a.) revisionist historians, b.) tragically naive or c.) firmly entrenched in denial, since there are ample recent (to say nothing of historical) occasions in which Christian organizations and individuals have been the persecutors.

I don't expect them to reverse their positions or stop doing any of the above.

I do wish, however, that they'd quit the rather juvenile whining about the reactions that follow.

You play, you pay. Either deal with it, or shut the fuck up.

(For similar sentiment, check out Frameshop's brilliant post on the topic.)

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