Sunday, December 23, 2007

im in ur country, persecutin ur majoritty religin

I hear on a regular basis from fundamentalist evangelicals that America is a Christian nation. Always has been and always will. Keep this in mind, because I also heard someone imply recently that Christians in America are more persecuted than homosexuals.

I'm thinking of a word. Perhaps you're familiar with it.


...this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that white is black, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.

Oldthinkers unbellyfeel newthinkful duckspeak prolefeed.

Y'know where Christians are persecuted? North Korea. China. Kashmir. Indonesia. Pakistan. Y'know the only people in America who've persecuted Christians? Christians. Still believe that this country was founded to be a place where Christians could govern together in peace? Did you know that a woman was hanged because for a long time Boston didn't want Quakers in their city limits? Quakers. The least offensive Christian denomination I can possibly imagine.

Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak[…]. Like various words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.

According to the FBI, in 2004 there were 1,482 victims of violence whose suffering could clearly be traced back to the bias of their attacker against homosexuals. Anti-Christian violence? 116. Asian/Pacific Islanders experience more targeted violence than that. If most of the people griping about the Crisis of Christianity Today actually cared they'd be talking about the legitimate and undeniable suffering of Christian minorities overseas... where they're actually in danger in many areas.

Christian power in America.

Fundamentalist evangelical Christians in America apparently feel that they're oppressed, or at least they'd like everyone else to believe it's the case. They want you to feel that it's so damned hard to be a Christian in a godless secular Christ-hating nation of socialists like America.

Perhaps you're thinking that this doesn't make a great deal of sense. Perhaps you're thinking of some examples of prominent Christians who make no bones about their affiliation and motivations. Forget Dubya and his buddies Falwell and Pat Robertson and LaHaye and whoever else. At least for now.

The Vanderbilts were Episcopalian, and Vanderbilt University is Methodist. They weren't big on philanthropy except when it came to providing for their religious establishment. Heck, Mrs. Vanderbilt's summer church in Bar Harbor had Tiffany stained glass windows. Rockefeller was a Baptist. He believed from day one that he'd been blessed by God. They were regular church attendants, and he even taught Sunday school. JP Morgan was so wealthy that he personally bailed out the US government at least twice. He was a devoted Episcopalian. Eli Lilly? The Lillys are an Episcopalian family. They take very good care of Butler University (particularly our pharmacy school). Bill and Linda Gates? Last I heard they were Episcopalian, too.

Still think that the godless humanists control the nation?

According to Dr. Peter Horsfield,

Though there are strict regulations governing the raising of money by stations that hold a noncommercial license (e.g. educational stations), the FCC has avoided enforcement of these regulations when it has been a religious group or organization holding such a license, thus making it easier and more profitable for religious organizations to hold noncommercial licenses by lowering the normal restrictions on the raising of money through on-air solicitations, the sale of religious items, and so on. The FCC, for example, has specifically stated that rules governing the amount of commercial time permitted for each hour of programming do not apply to paid-time religious programs. Though they spend a part of each program soliciting funds for their organizations, the FCC has ruled that paid-time religious programs are not commercial-length programs. This means that television stations may sell unlimited time to religious broadcasters without worrying about usual restrictions on commercial time. This uneven enforcement of FCC policy has made it more than normally profitable for stations to sell time to religious broadcasters who are prepared to buy it.

Does that really sound like The Man is out to stifle the voice of religious America?

It seems that a surprising percentage of famous film directors identify with a large religious denomination." Well, surprising if you think that Hollywood hates God. Granted, many of these are lapsed or non-practicing, but how many nominal Christians do you know who attend Church every Sunday?

Also, to say that religion has a distressing lack of influence on the increasingly-godless government also rings false with me. According to the same site I just linked (as of January 2006), less than 1% of USSC Justices did not identify with any church. That's 1 guy out of 108.

Popularity of the Persecution Complex

The great heroes of Christianity tend not to be the military leaders of the Crusades, but the martyrs who suffered for their beliefs. It is noble to suffer, it is noble to be persecuted. It's not noble to look like you have authority, like you've become The Establishment. As a result, there is some historical backing to the notion that a "good" Christian is a persecuted Christian. This provides one explanation for the great love among American fundamentalist evangelicals of denying their own influence for the sake of playing the martyr.

"According to Tim LaHaye, secular humanism was not so much a cultural trend as an organized conspiracy. Hard-core humanists numbered only about 250,000 but they controlled much of American media, entertainment, and education. The estimated sixty million born-again Christians, if properly organized, should be able to defeat the secular humanists, who were supported by naive moralists and religious liberals"(246). Fundamentalism and American Culture: George M. Marsden

You can also see some of this "us vs. them" ideology in the Left Behind series. Certainly seems to be a big component in the success of the books.

"The enormous popularity of these books, which sell to audiences far larger than the dedicated fundamentalist or evangelical constituencies, suggest the popular appeal in America of an aura of Biblical authority combined with adventure set in an ultimate dualistic clash between a minority with Christ on their side versus a world empire of evil"(249).

Of course, the other side of the popularity of the persecution complex is this: many Christians hear about the backlash against Christian fundamentalism without actually ever finding out what the fundamentalists are doing to provoke it. As a result, all they see are attacks on Christianity by bigoted agents of the antichrist and at that rate why wouldn't you feel for the Christians?

So here's a taste of the kinds of things that make people wary of Christianity. I'm not listing these because I hate organized religion or Christianity in particular, but these are notable examples of the reason many people are wary of evangelicals.

Church rejects interfaith service on its property. Apparently they didn't realize "interfaith" meant "HERE THERE BE MUSLIMS."

Lawmakers look for ways to keep moms at home to strengthen families. Thanks, Idaho.

Grassley Seeks Information From Six Media-Based Ministries. (I mean, unless people really did legitimately donate money hoping to finance Paula White's cosmetic surgery or Benny Hinn's jets.)

America's Armageddonites Push for More War I've actually read several pretty reliable sources on this, and it's probably the angle that scares me the most.

US anti-gay church to resume protests at funerals of soldiers. This one makes me puke inside my mouth a little. This is what other countries think of now when they think of America. I know because my foreign friends have expressed their pity to me personally.

’55 ‘Origin of Life’ Paper Is Retracted This is how real scientists react when they find Creationists citing them.

Who Watches the Watchmen. How do you deal with "liberal Nazis" in America? Oh! I know! Beat the shit out of gay people! From what I can tell these people trace their origins back to Assemblies of God, the same people who bring you Campus Crusade for Christ.

Also everything Ann Coulter has ever said. Ever.

Birth Control Foe To Head Family Planning: Bush Pick For Contraceptive Program Called Birth Control Part Of "Culture Of Death" What does this have to do with religion? Look again. She used to be the Senior Director of the Family Research Council.

A New Generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity A particularly useful article about people's feelings about Christianity today.


Anyway! This should provide some background for those people I know who've only ever heard the fundamentalists' side of the story. Yeah, people are getting disillusioned about Christianity. Yeah, there's a backlash building. But it isn't unjustified and to call it persecution is a contemptible misrepresentation.

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