Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Christian Persecution Complex

American Christians have never had it so good.  Living in a country where the government neither prevents them from practicing the religion of their choice nor dictates what or how to believe is a blessing that results from having a secular government.  How unappreciative they are of that blessing when they seek to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us by force of government.

Many Christians who want to enact their religious beliefs into law feel that they are being persecuted by "the secularists" or "the gays" or "the liberals" when their efforts to rule everyone's lives are stymied by constitutional considerations.  That pesky secular constitution.  The very same constitution that grants them freedom of religion also grants rights to the rest of us, and that's what these people can't abide.  As long as they can call the shots, all is well.  But telling others how to live is not a constitutional right.  As soon other people assert their own right to live the way they believe, these Christians feel that they have been victimized or persecuted.  As this article in RationalWiki notes, "... claims of persecution are better explained as annoyance at the removal of privilege or the curtailment of their ability to force their views on others."

To be sure, there is persecution of Christians.  As Benjamin Dixon at Patheos points out, there are places in the world where Christians are oppressed, or they have reason to fear for their lives.  That's why it seems so pathetic, or even embarrassing to Christians who take a more objective view, when privileged American Christians claim that they are downtrodden because gay people are allowed to get married.  They should follow the advice of Steve Neumann in Salon.com:  "don’t try to deny the equal rights of others because of your interpretation of what God says, just worry about removing the log from your own eye."

Why do so many Christians feel that they are persecuted?  I think it's mainly a tradition.  This tradition has a long history that starts with the bible.  There are so many biblical references to persecution that it seems as if being persecuted is a requirement - the mark of any good Christian.  "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" - 2 Timothy 3:12.  It's a badge of honor.  So if Christians didn't think they were persecuted, they might believe that they are not fulfilling their duty sufficiently.  Jesus was persecuted.  The Christians of the Roman empire were persecuted, although the stories of Roman persecution seem to be greatly exaggerated.  But that's the tradition that has persisted for the past two millennia.

Today, persecution has a more practical role for many Christians.  It is a way for them to garner their forces to press for political and social goals.  Where some Christians may feel complacent with their religious freedom in modern-day America, the ubiquitous claims of persecution serve as a call to arms.  It is a rallying cry to bring the forces together for a common cause - namely to establish the dominance Christian belief in the American political system and thus undermine the constitution and the rights of everyone else.

They just don't understand or don't appreciate how good they have it already.  Suppose atheists became the majority and started to clamor for the abolition of religion.  Do you think that Christians would invoke their constitutional rights to freedom of religion?  Of course they would.  If the time ever comes that Christians are no longer the majority, I think they will gain a new appreciation for the constitutional rights they have, and be thankful that even the majority has no right to tell them how to live or to impose their beliefs on them by force of government.  But that's a lesson that so far seems to be lost on them.


  1. An insightful comment. The screaming bleating of the religiose in the self-imposed delusion of being persecuted for their religious beliefs simply because single sex marriages are now recognised as a civil and human right protected under the rule of law, simply underscores the credulous nature of their distinctly discriminatory, anti-social and prejudicial belief system. The centuries, if not millennia, of the age of Christian hegemonic entitlement to discriminate on the basis of religious belief is now at an end. Through the process of the democratic principles set down in the constitution and in the Bill of Rights, the American people, both Christians and not, have determined that denial of even the most basic of human and civil rights on the basis of sexual orientation is untenable. Right-wing militant Christians must learn to behave with humility and good grace if they are to hold a chair at the big persons' table in public policy.

    1. To have race and humility would require that they practice what they preach. Just as they can't face the reality of their God being sidelined by the advancement of scientific knowledge, they can't face the reality that their grip on the control of our lives is slipping away.