Thursday, November 5, 2009

And here we are, after all this time.

I'm finally getting to the point where enough horrible shit has been done by Christian-identified groups in this country that I'm beginning to reflexively distrust them. Yes, I fully understand as well as any amateur theologian that Christianity is a religion capable of affirming the intrinsic value of human beings, and empowering oppressed people to protect themselves and the people they love.

But if you think that's what it generally does in America, you're living in a fantasy that I'd pay good money to enjoy again.

The Catholic Church spent half a million dollars lobbying against equal rights for LGBT residents of Maine. Never mind that whole "tax-exempt status means not lobbying" dealie. Never mind that whole "separation of church and state as a protection for both of them" bit. Never mind any of that horseshit in the Bible about service to one's fellow man and whatever is done to the least of us being done to Jesus.

No, let's just spend all our money keeping people down. It's what Jesus wants! And you know what? Jesus isn't here to speak for himself. The only voice we have for what Jesus wants--especially if you don't accept the whole "reanimated savior" narrative as unexaggerated fact--is this.

And no, you can't tell me those people "aren't real Christians," because you don't get to decide that. Certainly not if your religious leaders disagree with you.

What asking to be granted a disassociation from Christianity's spectrum and history that includes ugly things does on a practical level is expect marginalized people to pretend that none of the bad things that have been done to them in the name of Christianity have anything to do with actual Christians. (...)

Frankly, it's hurtful to me when Christians address what happened to me by saying, "Those aren't real Christians," expecting me to salve their discomfort about the baggage of privilege by not disagreeing. People who would never in a million years think to try to console a victim of a hate crime with "All [white/straight/cis/abled] people aren't like that!" nonetheless responded that way to me when I was targeted and threatened by droves of self-identified Christians.

I already know that all Christians aren't like that—and everyone who said it to me knew I was well aware of that fact. But in the wake of large members of a certain segment of Christianity attacking me, most of the Christians I knew felt obliged first and foremost to distance themselves from the group that hurt me, and do it in a way that protected their idea of Christianity, that reasserted their privilege—a privilege that is shared by the very people who attacked me, solely by virtue of their calling themselves Christians.

And they expected me to be comforted by it.


Christianity in this country strongly acts as a force for hate. Mad props to Christians who fight that, but if we're going to look at religion as a cultural system instead of simply a collection of ancient teachings, American Christianity is a cultural system that has become ugly as shit. I can't understand people who continue to identify with it.

I'm done saying that this isn't real Christianity. I'm done saying that this isn't what Jesus really wants. I'm done saying that "real" Christianity is so much more beautiful and loving and helpful to us all. Ideal Christianity (to me) is all of those things. It even exists, in small pockets. But I'm tired of letting an entire cultural system be represented by the single sliver that matches my ideology, even if it means seeing them more charitably.

Yes, this is a rant. I'm not being particularly considerate right now. I'm not protecting the feelings of Christians on my friends list right now. And right now I don't give a damn. I'm tired of hearing "not all Christians are like that!" I'm tired of hearing, "I may be Catholic/Mormon/whatever, but my church's leadership doesn't reflect my beliefs or speak for me."

I'm tired of people who disagree with what Christian groups are doing in this country coming along and responding to me with excuses, responding to the damage Christians are causing by doing their PR cleanup for them.

2 comments:

Sam said...

I'm a christian (? sometimes it's hard to even know whether I count anymore) who doesn't think that these people think for me, and I actually agree with you - those of us who don't agree with what the majority of other self-identified christians are doing should be yelling at THEM, not just apologizing to everyone else. I don't like it when people do shitty things while purporting to speak for me or God. But, especially when the worst Christians are also the loudest (and perhaps the majority), it's their fault for doing it, not other people's fault for (correctly, from a statistical point of view) concluding that if someone goes around loudly saying they're christian, they're probably a jerk.

The Dictatress said...

"Christianity in this country strongly acts as a force for hate. Mad props to Christians who fight that, but if we're going to look at religion as a cultural system instead of simply a collection of ancient teachings, American Christianity is a cultural system that has become ugly as shit."

Thank you for this rant. I've been here. And damnit, humanity, for that.