Is Christianity persecuted in America?
September 9, 2005 7:46 PM   Subscribe

In the past few years, I have read--over and over--that many American Christians feel that "Christianity is under attack," and that there is an "assault on people of faith."

I don't get it. I am a blue-state, non-religious liberal, and I simply don't understand what these people are talking about. To my eyes, a secular government is the surest protection for the free practice of all religions. But from the perspective of the aggrieved, it seems that unless society specifically endorses their values, and their religious practices, they feel that the culture is hostile towards them.

I would honestly like to understand the other point of view. Metafilter has a wide and diverse membership: if there are any Christians who can explain why they feel the way they do, it might help us understand each other a little better. And please, to prevent this from turning into a snark-fest, could people avoid piling on? Can we make this a completely non-hostile exchange of perspectives?
posted by curtm to Human Relations (76 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
American Christians feel that people not living in accord with their view of things and not agreeing with every wacky tenet and thought they may have is an attack on their faith. That's why.
posted by xmutex at 7:53 PM on September 9, 2005


Well, remember that people increasingly look to entertainment and the media as cues, and if you spend your life watching Celebrity Rehab and yelling at your son to turn the Fifty Cent down, you might be excused in thinking that there's some kind of plan to make you as shallow, violent and irreligious as possible.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: beyond the nutcases, I think most conservative Christians don't think that liberals are out to corrupt them personally. They just see all this "corruption" around them and take it personally themselves.
posted by selfnoise at 8:02 PM on September 9, 2005


"From the perspective of the aggrieved" - Many people with deeply felt religious beliefs feel that those beliefs should be displayed in many aspects of their everyday lives, not just saved for services on Sundays. Hence they like to have small but meaningful-to-them observances at meetings, gatherings, official locations, etc.

Now, many politicians who push for similar observances do so, not because of their own personal beliefs, but because they know that it will put them in a favorable light with those who do. I do not think Roy Moore necessarily has deeply held Christian beliefs. I think he wants to be governor of Alabama.
posted by yclipse at 8:04 PM on September 9, 2005


Christianity has a long tradition of matrydom and being under attack. It started out real enough, from the early Roman Christians to the Protestant reformation to Europeans fleeing whatever state-sponsored religion they had to America. In fact many early states (colonies at the time really) tolerated any religion that was not dominant. Keep in mind this is the old school tolerated which meant "we're not going to run you out of town or kill you, but that's as nice as we'll be."

I have a strong feeling that evangelicals pull upon this notion to rally their troops. It is much easier to motivate people by reminding them that the government and media are against them and they must get involved to stop the spread of Satan. That's the whole gist of evangelicalism really, and it appeals to everyone's sense of underdog moral rebellion. I went to Catholic schools all my life and never once felt as if Christianity was under attack. Of course I heard a lot about abortion, but I never felt that they were pushing for a Catholic government -- it was more of working within the government to come up with a secular solution.

You state you've never really run into this, being that you're a "blue state liberal", and I think that explains a lot behind evangelicalism today. Most are from the South and conservative communities. Every single person I know who's the typical "wacky Christian" stereotype (there are exceptions, I know) comes from very sheltered lives. We're talking communities so homogeneous that even network TV seems strange. The cultural differences in America are huge and simply accentuated by the fact we have mass media after World War II where everyone can see how the people on the coasts act. The "under attack" has just as much to do with culture as it does with religious idealogy.

Of course any brand of religious fanaticism feels as if their way must be pushed on the non-believers no matter what. Just look at the entire middle east.
posted by geoff. at 8:09 PM on September 9, 2005


I think it is a reasonable position to some degree - despite the current trend against this the long term trend is clearly away from "traditional Christian values."

Think of the long term changes in the hot button "values" issues in the last 5 decades or so - abortion became legal, homosexuality became a publicly acceptable lifestyle choice, gay marriage can be brought up as a valid option, public sexuality in the media & pornography have become much more widespread.

Society is moving away from the traditional Christian positions on many moral issues. For right or wrong this can move people who believe along those lines into the minority and lead to marginalization of their beliefs.

As an extreme example, I would not say that the Amish are under attack, but the Amish lifestyle clearly is under extreme pressure from a society that does not believe it is a reasonable lifestyle choice.
posted by true at 8:13 PM on September 9, 2005


My mom -- a former liberal turned hard-right neo-conservative -- announces regularly that it's Judeo-Christianity in general that's under attack. (This is particularly weird [or hilarious, depending on my mood] in light of the fact that not only is my mom neither Christian nor Jewish, she's been a card-carrying agnostic as long as I've known her -- in fact she used to strongly discourage me from going to mass back in the days when I was actually a practicing Catholic, and used to openly mock any Mormon missionaries or Jehovah's Witnesses who used to come by the house.) She's pretty much just aping what she hears on FoxNews, but when pressed for details, she seems to think that Islam has been given "special status" via civil rights cases protecting individual Muslims as well as mosques from hate crimes. (In other words, it's the analog to anti-gay-rights claims that gays & lesbians want "special rights" that heterosexuals don't have.)

She was also agitated by recent court cases involving "under god" in the pledge of allegiance, as well as the cases removing the 10 commandments from various courthouses. She also now thinks that creationism "has some good points to consider" (and this is coming from an agnostic who purports to believe in science!) and that attempts to restrict science classes to, well, science are part of this liberal/Islamic plot against the Bible. From my perspective, all this is almost frighteningly illogical and unreasonable, but that seems to be her line of thinking.
posted by scody at 8:13 PM on September 9, 2005


"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

In order for the leaders to stay in power, they have to tell their flock that the flock is under attack. And that only the leaders can save them. This is Rule 1 of human psychology. It works. It works well. It will always work. Every human tribe is always told by its chiefs that the other tribes are out to get it, and only the chiefs can save the tribe. Always. Always.
posted by jellicle at 8:14 PM on September 9, 2005


Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: my mom has also gone so far as to declare that Islam is now the state religion of the U.S. I'm not sure exactly which paranoid propagandist she picked up that particular meme from (Bill O'Reilly? Rush Limbaugh?) but she's fond of repeating it now and then. I usually repsond by asking her if she's bought any pretty new burqas lately, which elicits an irritated clearing of the throat and a hasty change of subject.
posted by scody at 8:17 PM on September 9, 2005


To the above very good responses, I can only add that Christian faith is clearly under attack from science. Obviously physics and cosmologically are mounting an 'attack'; so are neuroscience and evolutionary psychology.
posted by josh at 8:21 PM on September 9, 2005


It is difficult to talk about this without snarking. Especially so when America is 79% Christian.

Actually, I think that incredibly-high majority is part of the reason Christians may feel that they are under attack. They (and I am very much not a Christian) are simply not used to not having complete control over the nation. So, now that people are speaking up, talking back to Christians, actually daring to question the Christian moral dogma/tradition, it must feel like they are losing something. It feels like it, because it is true, they are losing their unquestioned supremacy. At least in my happier, and more hopeful moods I hope that is true, or will become true.

It must particularly bother people who are used to always having their way to hear outsiders/minorities demanding equality and religious neutrality of the government. Again, it must hurt to lose ones unquestioned privilege.

If losing unearned and often illegal privileges is an assault, if having to live by the standards you claim to revere is an assault, then I am all for this particular assault.
posted by Invoke at 8:34 PM on September 9, 2005


drive through a red state. you will see more trash, porn and filth advertised on the road side than most blue states. I would posit that the repression for christianity fosters its own counter force which they fail to recognize as their own creation. Its the devil! Taking over! More repression! Rally the troops! etc.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 8:38 PM on September 9, 2005


josh's answer is particularly informative. I don't intend to speak for anyone else, but in my experience, that is, the Christians I've met, have a very shaky foundation on which they've rested their faith. This is not wholly their fault, in my opinion. I'd say it's a result of decades, centuries... of allowing hypocritical people to have too much sway over the masses, losing touch with the foundation of the religion, the central tenants. I digress.

What I'm getting at, is that if you truly are faithful, nothing can shake your faith, because it stands on its own. If, however, your relationship with faith is already tenuous (scody's mother's, for example), then non-faith-entities, such as facts, will always seem to be on the "attack."

So, what's at play, as far as I can tell, is a mixture of self-centeredness, blind faith without true belief, and poor self-image.
posted by odinsdream at 8:47 PM on September 9, 2005


Aside from all of the condescending and self-righteous pity exhibited in this thread so far, I think much of the explanation can be found in differing conceptions of public culture. Conservatives, particularly Burkean and value conservatives believe that each member of society is woven into a strong fabric, to which each contributes and from which each receives values. The modern liberal view takes a more individualistic atomistic view of individuals loosely joined. If society is only a loose aggregation of individuals, then what some members of society do has little effect on the other autonomous members. If, on the other hand, society is a tightly knit fabric, attempts to change tradition tear at that fabric and can be seen as an attack. It has little to do with Christianity, although that's the primary vehicle for value conservatism in the west; look at any culture with a strong value-based conservative element, and you'll see the traditionalists claim they are "under attack."
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:07 PM on September 9, 2005


You may find David Limbaugh's Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity helpful.
posted by ahughey at 9:15 PM on September 9, 2005


I'd just like to say that monju_bosatsu's description of liberal and conservative seem entirely reversed. I don't know any liberals that don't believe in the strength of societal and cultural fabric, nor do I know any conservatives who wouldn't want to be left completely alone to do as they please.
posted by odinsdream at 9:18 PM on September 9, 2005


And another: Janet Folger's The Criminalization of Christianity : Read This Book Before It Becomes Illegal!
posted by ahughey at 9:22 PM on September 9, 2005


monju_bosatsu, the poster requested that we keep this civil. That's hard to do when people are throwing around such loaded terms and hackneyed dichotomies.

On one side:
"condescending", "self-righteous", "pity", "liberals", "loose"

on the other:
"tight knit", "conservative", "strong", "value-based"

odinsdream you beat me to that same point.
posted by Invoke at 9:23 PM on September 9, 2005


So, what's at play, as far as I can tell, is a mixture of self-centeredness, blind faith without true belief, and poor self-image.

And I'm the one not keeping it civil?

Anyway, I certainly didn't intend for those terms to be loaded. As for the reversal of perceived roles, well, I agree. Keep in mind, though, that I'm not talking about economic or libertarian conservatives, I'm talking about Burkean and values conservatives. And when I refer to liberalism, I don't mean modern economic liberalism--which is really a mild form of socialism--I mean liberalism as a political philosophy, à la John Stuart Mill:
Individuality is the same thing with development, and…it is only the cultivation of individuality which produces, or can produce, well-developed human beings…what more can be said of any condition of human affairs, than that it brings human beings themselves nearer to the best thing they can be? or what worse can be said of any obstruction to good, than that it prevents this? (Mill, 1991 [1859]: 71)
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:32 PM on September 9, 2005


monju is discussing things in the language of political philosophy, and far more civil than most of the preceeding posters.

There are good reasons and imagined reasons that Christians feel attacked. Some of the good reasons are mildly illustrated within this very thread.
posted by weston at 9:35 PM on September 9, 2005


I consider the following notion: Us vs. Them.

There are many people that find belonging to a group particularly necessary to bolster or even define their personal and impersonal identity; to give their lives meaning. We all, to some degree, need to be apart of the world we see.

We have always known that individuals that place their self-value in the group identity\afinity, who are also under a high level of stress (persecution, lack of some kinds of support, difficult adherence to group norms) share a much deeper, longer lasting bond and unquestioning committment to that group and its pricipals than those who do not need group affiliation to expirence personal and community security.

For good or ill, placing one's notion of self outside the self will always provide a tenuous purchase. Unfortunatly, the harder it gets to conform to the group, and feel a part of the larger community, often the stronger the belief in the necessity of the primary group norms become.

So, if you really want to energize a group to aid your cause, all you have to do is find a way to make them believe the larger community does not value them. This, quite sucsessfully, has been done since time immorial, by those individuals that seek nothing more than greater power and welth. Unfortunatly, is so doing, they insite uncritical devotion and corrupt the basic pricipals that the group was founded upon. It is very sad.
posted by johnj at 9:55 PM on September 9, 2005


I live in a very religious area, I'm an engineer and I work with other engineers. We've developed the fastest supercomputer on the planet. Given that I was pretty amazed when I found out that the majority of them believed in a pretty literal translation of the Bible but also that despite this they'd pick and choose parts of the Bible to promote their views while ignoring other parts.

So for instance the earth was created in 7 days, the great flood did happen and people used to live for a very long time compared to modern man. On the other hand capital punishment is fine, charity is sort of frowned upon (this one is complicated, some of my coworkers do a lot but usually it's bible based like preaching at the jail etc)

So from their point of view teaching evolution in schools is an attack on Christianity. Secular Christmas displays are also an attack on Christianity though I don't think it's liberal values that did it. I personally think it's capitalism. Christmas with snow and sleigh bells and jolly old St. Nick sells a lot more stuff than an infant Jesus. Not being allowed to question somebodies religion during an interview is also an attack on Christianity and so is not actively condemning homosexuals.

So I can understand how from their point of view that they feel attacked, but I also don't have any sympathy.
posted by substrate at 9:56 PM on September 9, 2005


I was raised in a Protestant Christian tradition, but lost my faith in it many years ago, so I can't speak as someone who actually feels it, but if my personal experience is any guide, I can certainly understand why believers might feel it. I don't think they're crazy, or oversensitive -- there have been actual, real, changes in society that might make them feel this way. Society, for good or ill, has moved further away from they think it should look like, and it feels like an assault.

When I was a child, organized prayer in school had only recently been outlawed -- any many were the people who still ignored or tried to work around that inconvenience. Rare now is is the school where that happens. Moving from "organized prayer allowed" to "organized prayer forbidden" can't feel good to a person of faith -- even those who intellectually understand the reasons. They didn't move from a situation of "Satanist, Wiccan, Christian and Islamic prayers are all being forced on kids in various places" to one of "nobody's prayers allowed." They moved from "Christian prayers" to "no Christian prayers," so their emotions get engaged.

In my youth, Christmas celebrations both in schools and other public institutions routinely showed Jesus and Mary and the Wise Men along with more secular symbols. No longer.

When I was young, having a child out of wedlock was by and large a cause of shame. Not now. Living together without marriage would get people from "decent" backgrounds stared at. Not anymore. Since this means a movement from an environment of "living in accordance with our principles is the norm, and deviation is shameful," to one of "who cares about your outmoded ideas?" I can see why they feel theatened. General acceptance of homosexuality by ordinary people then, was an even further cry from attitudes towards gay/lesbian/bi people now. I, personally, may feel this is a good thing, but then again, I personally don't believe that it's a temptation born of Satan and an abomination before God.

There's abortion, of course. And evolution. The image of a Catholic priest being tarnished into "child molester." The way that women no longer feel the need to "submit themselves to their husbands." None of which generally get discussed very "civilly," but all of which have veered far from the status quo many Christians grew up with.

They feel under attack, in short, because society has changed in a hundred ways that are anathema to them.

(On preview, what substrate said)
posted by tyllwin at 9:58 PM on September 9, 2005


monju_bosatsu I was reacting to the language rather than the substance. My apologies.

Personally, I don't think Christians are wrong to feel attacked. As I explained above, they are losing ground, due to very real encroachments on "their territory". I happen to think that is a good thing for the U.S. and the world, and I am proud to be one of the people exercising my rights in a way which makes some of the people in power nervous.
posted by Invoke at 9:59 PM on September 9, 2005


No problem, invoke. I probably could have been more clear with my definitions.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:02 PM on September 9, 2005


There are no good reasons for Christians to feel like they're being attacked. Christians should be embarassed to even imply that they are being persecuted while people are still alive who lived through the holocaust. Christianity is not the official state religion in the US, and the recognition of this fact is not akin to persecution.
posted by Hildago at 10:02 PM on September 9, 2005


I would also like to add that as a non-Christian, living an obviously Christian values state, I can completely understand the feeling of having my values attacked at every turn. We may be at opposit ends of a very long spectrum but it is easy to understand the feeling of loosing a battle for what we feel is intrisically right. What I try to do is separate Chriastianity from the religion of Christianity. That has helped a lot in not feeling so attacked.
posted by johnj at 10:07 PM on September 9, 2005


Hildago, just because Christians aren't a persecuted minority doesn't mean they're not under attack. Just read this thread, for example.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:07 PM on September 9, 2005


scody said "She also now thinks that creationism 'has some good points to consider' (and this is coming from an agnostic who purports to believe in science!) and that attempts to restrict science classes to, well, science are part of this liberal/Islamic plot against the Bible."

That's pretty funny given that from stuff like this and this one might think Islam also plots against science.
posted by davy at 10:27 PM on September 9, 2005


This liberal Christian would like to note that "Christian" != "conservative Christian", "fundamentalist Christian", or even "evangelical Christian."

So much anti-Xian discourse on MeFi ignores that, and assumes that "Christians" all share a monolithic belief system.
posted by Vidiot at 10:30 PM on September 9, 2005


I think jellicle plus josh pretty much nails it.

Christianity's deep saturation in the US market requires it to employ agressive growth tactics, and to focus on brand loyalty to retain its customer base, especially since the competition offers a more robust feature set.
posted by ulotrichous at 10:47 PM on September 9, 2005


Plus, you haven't heard it over and over again because it's true; it's true because you've heard it over and over again. I know that sounds snarky, but it's a fact of public perception, and that's what your question is about.
posted by ulotrichous at 11:02 PM on September 9, 2005


johnj, "What I try to do is separate Chriastianity from the religion of Christianity. "

Huh? If Christianity is not a religion what is it?

What I do face to face, at least in situations where I don't feel like I'm in immediate physical danger from somebody's "family values", is remind myself that this person really doesn't know any better, and that trying to clue them in would likely be seen as "attacking their faith and values" and would likely make them hostile with me. So I held my tongue a lot back in Baltimore, but here in Kentucky I avoid "touchy" subject as much as I can -- and in fact I when I can't avoid talking to strangers I don't discuss anything more "contentious" than the weather. When I'm cornered "I hear what you're saying", or a smile and a nod, can be stretched a long way.

One simply gets nowhere by, say, trying to explain to an old lady in a diner that, regardless of what her pastor said the Bible says, most homosexual men like grown-up men with muscular chests and bull-sized cocks and so have no use at all for her 5 year old grand-nephew. And above all, I won't tell her how I came to know such a thing: that would make me one of "Them", so she'll think of course I'm just snowing her so she'll let me around the 5 year old.

As for their point of view, I think that's been covered by others pretty well; I've just offered my strategy for having to live in a state where everywhere I turn I see assaults on my values and even on my worth as a person by the overwhelming majority. So I think I do understand their point of view: I grew up around them and I've been dealing with them (or trying to avoid dealing them dealing with me) all my life. It's almost enough to drive me to make common cause with this city's other tiny non-"Judeo-Christian" minorities of Muslims and Wiccans, not that I care much for those faiths either. (As for why I'd have to live where I'm so out- numbered, for one thing check out the rents in "liberal" places like the Haight and Berkeley.)

And vidiot, I get it ; my father was a "liberal Christian" (unlike my grandparents). The problem is that liberal Christians don't make sure their views get enough press, so they leave the field to those who go on and on about their illiberal interpretations. Can you name 5 liberal Christian televangelists and/or media personalities, and if so would any of us have heard of them?
posted by davy at 11:26 PM on September 9, 2005


That's exactly right, davy -- because we're not extreme, and aren't howling about this kind of thing all the time, we aren't on the radar nearly as much. I'm just tired of seeing all these assumptions of what "Christians" say and do...when a large silent-by-comparison group of self-identified Christians say and do nothing of the sort.
posted by Vidiot at 11:32 PM on September 9, 2005


It's absolutely not merely a matter of perception.

There's certainly a kind of martyr syndrome that can kick in: both Paul and Jesus tell their followers to expect to be persecuted, Christianity has a history of the problem. And I agree that part of it is losing the cultural primacy it's had in the past.

But there's also an incredible degree of condescension and hostility that comes from some individuals towards Christians (and other faiths), a cavalier dismisal of even the need to show a certain amount of respect and civility for certain beliefs.

Many Christians, of course, have the same problem. But if there were ever proof that it's not religion per se that's the problem with humanity, it's in the fact that secularists seem to have many of the same problems in their particular brand of evangelism that they complain of in theists.

Fortunately, there are also people of all stripes who seem to be able to rise above this.
posted by weston at 11:35 PM on September 9, 2005


Secular Christmas displays are also an attack on Christianity though I don't think it's liberal values that did it. I personally think it's capitalism.

This is an important idea - much more of the decline of Christian values in our culture is driven by the Right's much-revered market than by "liberals." Tom Frank writes about this a lot.
posted by abcde at 11:42 PM on September 9, 2005


What I try to do is separate Chriastianity from the religion of Christianity.

I am not a religious Catholic. I was raised in a largly Catholic environment by Catholic parents that where raised the same way, but I am not a practicing Roman Catholic. I am a cultural Catholic.

The same goes for a dear friend who is culturally Jewish not a religious Jew.

I can understand and value and even believe in Christianity, the history, some of the cultural values, even some of the more rigorous values of the religious, but I don't need to be a religious to do so.
posted by johnj at 12:15 AM on September 10, 2005


weston: But there's also an incredible degree of condescension and hostility that comes from some individuals towards Christians (and other faiths), a cavalier dismisal of even the need to show a certain amount of respect and civility for certain beliefs.

"Incredible degree of condescension and hostility"?! Wake me up when they make the "FAGS HATE GOD" signs, when they're terrorizing churches and assassinating priests instead of clinics and doctors, when "there is no God" is pushed on children as good solid science.

You gotta admit that American Christianity has a certain amount of condescension and hostility coming to it.

A little snark in AskMeFi doesn't prove a damn thing. Let's drop this crap that Christians feel bad because people sometimes say they're poopy-heads.
posted by fleacircus at 12:47 AM on September 10, 2005


Let me preface by saying that a lot of ugly things have been done and said in the name of Christianity. I completely understand why many people have a lot of ill will toward it.

Second, I am a Christian. I come from a traditionally Bible-thumping, conservative denomination. I'm pretty middle of the road, am friends with all kinds of "sinners", don't use my faith as a cop-out when making political decisions and agree that a secular government is probably the way to go.

I can't say that I feel under attack, that there's some athiest-islamic-homosexual-newage agenda to destroy Christianity. But I know lots of people who do, namely American Christians. For people who feel that they are living in "God's land", that it is the new Israel, all of a sudden getting the boot from mainstream society is difficult. Many of them grew up getting to pray in school and studying stuff that lined up exactly with what they believed. Being the dominant majority was all they knew.

Fast forward to today: Things are changing rapidly. Our culture has expanded to encompass all kinds of beliefs and worldviews. Christianity is no longer getting to dominate. That makes people squirm. Gone are the days when it was assumed everyone had the same belief system. For people who got to enjoy what for them would be a golden age of American Christianity, it is The End of the World.

Unfortunately for those people, getting to be the majority for so long left them kind of shallow. (And I'm talking about many wonderful people whom I love deeply). They have never had to fight for their faith and it's always been quite easy for them to practice their faith. What they have always known is disappearing and it's easy for that to feel like an attack. It's scary, new territory.

What's funny to me about the whole situation is three things:

1. Christianity seems to do best when suppressed and oppressed. Looking at history and the rest of the world, the times that created the greatest growth were when Christianity was hard to practice. It created a much deeper level of faith, a faith that people were willing to die for.

2. Even though there have been lots of little battles lately, Christianity is still pretty dominant. And though I have heard sermons fearing this would happen, no one has been banned from preaching this or that from the pulpit.

3. The Bible, which is almost 2,000 years old, tells Christians that they are being attacked (but by Satan and crew) and yet people are complaining as if this were something new.

On a personal level, I said above I do not feel attacked. At times, though, I feel frustrated. Reading this thread, for example. It was a good question, addressed toward Christians. But many people have used it as a change to make digs at Christians. Not cool. I keep my mouth shut on all kinds of threads that involve things I disagree with. I ask that you all would do the same.
posted by wallaby at 5:45 AM on September 10, 2005


I'm a Christian.

I have heard of such things as a woman being fired because she wanted to simply wear a cross necklace to work (btw she won the lawsuit.) From my perspective a lot of the problem is people going a little too overboard when trying to avoid the appearance of "promoting religion."

Christianity is indeed a faith which is REQUIRED to be practiced 24/7, not just in a pew on Sunday mornings. I would like to see tolerance actually be tolerant rather than negativity being thrown at us from all directions. And as a longtime net hound, I can tell you that simply letting it be known you are a Christian invites attack and abuse. Just how it is.
posted by konolia at 5:55 AM on September 10, 2005


It's not good that it invites attack and abuse, but the problem is that it doesn't allow for discourse if you're PC.

If you voluntarily place yourself in a religious discussion you *have* to be willing to hear the dissenting view: and one that is common, including my own, is the atheist point of view. By very *definition* the atheist point of view is heretical and insulting, according to Christians, so it immediately, and conveniently invalidates discussion.

People don't *want* to shed their faith because they think it's a good thing, that it's important, that they need it, and fundamentally that "god" exists. That's fine: but I've often found religious-types coming *into* a religious discussion without the purpose of really discussing anything: they want to stay the way they are, and no amount of rational discourse will change that.

You could say that I am always representing the atheist point of view, however. But I believe this is a tad different--whereas I *was* religious (briefly, during my childhood years), I grew out of it. Just like I believe someone who documents cult and occultist activities as a skeptic is more aware than the occultists themselves; just like I believe someone who has seen someone die in front of them is probably more aware of what it's like than someone else; I also believe that, honeslty, atheists are more aware of religion than the religious are.

Anyway. Christianity isn't persecuted. And it shouldn't *be* persecuted: people should just get smarter and hopefully it will fade away. Don't try to argue with closed-minded Christians, or *any other faith* for that matter. The "suppressed" card is the worst card one can ever play, as it is one of spite and often is discredited quickly--as an anarchist, I know many of "my kind" who play the "anarchists are suppressed" card. I feel this is entirely missing the point--of course they are! The state wants them oppressed! The fact that there are few of us should not make us rationalise things. And thus I think the same philosophy *should* apply to these Christians, who are trying to justify the increase in *very very small increments* of secular people with "attacks on faith."
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 6:39 AM on September 10, 2005


Think of the long term changes in the hot button "values" issues in the last 5 decades or so - abortion became legal, homosexuality became a publicly acceptable lifestyle choice, gay marriage can be brought up as a valid option, public sexuality in the media & pornography have become much more widespread.

See, I understand this completely, and see the same fears among some religious Catholics of my acquaintance in Ireland.

What I genuinely don't understand (and don't see in Ireland) is the claim that "other religions" (which apparently means Islam? Although religious Muslims would surely fight for the same "values") are outright favoured, which is something I hear regularly from a guy at work, or the co-opting of Judaism into Christianity whenever these arguments are made.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:47 AM on September 10, 2005


I grew up evangelical Christian and went to two different bible colleges in Ontario. I've since left the faith, so I look at it a bit differently.

1. Christianity seems to do best when suppressed and oppressed. Looking at history and the rest of the world, the times that created the greatest growth were when Christianity was hard to practice. It created a much deeper level of faith, a faith that people were willing to die for.
2. Even though there have been lots of little battles lately, Christianity is still pretty dominant. And though I have heard sermons fearing this would happen, no one has been banned from preaching this or that from the pulpit.
3. The Bible, which is almost 2,000 years old, tells Christians that they are being attacked (but by Satan and crew) and yet people are complaining as if this were something new.


These are good points. For #1, I heard that all my life in church, but I'm not sure how valid it is, since I only ever heard it there. It makes for a bit of a persecution fetish. I've heard many people say that persecution would be the best thing for the church, as it would strengthen faith and separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

#2 was one of the main reasons that churches opposed gay marriage here. They want the right to preach that homosexuality is corrupt and that same-sex marriage is evil and should not be tolerated, without having to worry about hate speech laws. Most of the churches I've been in really shouldn't worry about this, since they rarely touch the topic and when they do, they're not advocating violence against queers, but they worry anyways. They are also convinced that the government will force them to perform gay marriages, thus defiling them and their churches.

#3 is key to this whole mess though. Not only does the Bible say that Christians will be attacked, it says that they'll be attacked if they're serving God well/effectively. So, by that logic, if you're not being attacked, you have something to worry about. Persecution is seen as coming from Satan, and it is seen as a good thing, since it is seen as a result of giving Satan something to worry about by being an effective Christian. Simultaneously, people don't like persecution.

What counts as persecution? Sickness, feeling depressed, losing your job, being told that you can't proselytise, lots of things. This attack isn't seen as coming from people, but from Satan. It's the other side of seeing anything positive as coming from God. Your doctor is awesome and your cancer goes into remission? That's God. Your evangelisation efforts are ineffective and people don't convert? That's Satan. There is definitely an "us vs. them" mentality, which forms the basis of the faith. They are deceived and living in darkness. We know the truth and have stepped into the light. They are ruled by sin. We are ruled by the Spirit of God. They are influenced by Satan. We are influenced by God. This is the reason to become a Christian -- to switch sides, to repent of being on the other side. Given the two sides, it is thought that Satan is trying to destroy Christianity and that he has some amount of control over non-Christians. It follows that if non-Christians have control over the government or Hollywood or the news or education, they will try to destroy Christianity.

It's not entirely untrue. When your university professor teaches you to think critically, fundamentalist-type thinking is threatened. When Hollywood paints homosexuality as a viable alternative, it threatens the dogma that it is anathema. When the government insists that the 10 Commandments can't be in the courtroom, they're kicking out the words of God.

Of course, the threat of persecution is a very effective rallying point. See also: the War on Terror. What constitutes an attack on Christianity? What is "unAmerican" lately? Disagreement with authority, on both counts.
posted by heatherann at 6:50 AM on September 10, 2005


MeTa
posted by klarck at 7:25 AM on September 10, 2005


Well, as a militant atheist who definitely does make a point of attacking religion, I think the perception you describe is based on the very real sense on the part of religious people of the fundamental insecurity and fragility of their beliefs. Anyone religious person who really bothers to educate themself about science, philosophy and the sheer scale of the universe must, if they are intelligent and intellectually honest, feel the chill wind of doubt when they compare those things to the tenets of their ancient belief system. And once they've felt that, anything that reminds them of how unnerving it feels will tend to feed paranoia and a sense of martydom. Feeling you're a martyr is a way to compensate for feeling insecure.

Bottom line: there's so much out there in the modern world to cause this feeling. And the religious describe it as being "under attack".
posted by Decani at 7:32 AM on September 10, 2005


As a former atheist turned Catholic turned evangelical Baptist, I don't feel persecuted at all, nor do I feel Decani's "chill wind of doubt" in my day to day dealings with science and the vastness of the universe. My ancient belief system has proven remarkably adaptable to a variety of historical progressions, and any turbulence you see now is just standard growing pains which will pass with time.
posted by brownpau at 7:53 AM on September 10, 2005


There's also that within many of our lifetimes, Christianity was (and still is) privileged--we had "Christmas vacation" and "Easter vacation" in schools, and our national holidays still include Christmas and Easter even today. Creches were everywhere. Some schools still had prayers. etc...

That was all very wrong to begin with, but people are angry about it. As a non-Christian who had to have it all in my face, but no other religions were allowed to do the same, i'm happy.

(and what others have said about losing the culture wars)
posted by amberglow at 7:59 AM on September 10, 2005


I don't think Christianity is being persecuted in America, but I do think it has been in relative decline in importance and in the influence it has on society over the past years. Losing ground one had as a result of changing opions and new information would feel like an attack. What follows is an admittedly imperfect analogy:

Evolution is taught in the vast majority of schools as the only theory for species development. Some schools in some states want to add various silly attempts to discredit evolution into the school curriculums. People that believe in evolution see this as an attack on science. Science, I would say, is a more dominant ideology in America than Christianity but still there are (not universal) feelings of victimhood and persecution among the community that believes in evolution.

I think the psychological truth is that being persecuted is "good" feeling to have. It casts a person as a comparatively heroic and important figure and it expands moral license to act in ways you wouldn't otherwise think appropriate. Because its rewarding to feeli like the underdog people will feel like the underdog even when they aren't.
posted by I Foody at 8:15 AM on September 10, 2005


I think I Foody hits it on the head in the last graf.
posted by Vidiot at 9:10 AM on September 10, 2005


First of all, I'd like to chime in with those who've made the observation that Christian does not neccessarily equal fundamentalist. Catholics and mainstream Protestants do exist. Also, even among those who are self-described "born agains" or evangelicals, there's quite a bit of diversity, at least in my experience. Dr. King, Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham could all be described as evangelicals, and that covers some ground.

Most are from the South and conservative communities. Every single person I know who's the typical "wacky Christian" stereotype (there are exceptions, I know) comes from very sheltered lives.

My experience (YMMV, of course) has been the exact opposite. Maybe it's a regional thing, being that I'm from the Northeast, but every self-described born-again I've ever known personally has come from a screwed up background and came to their faith as part of recovering from it.* And while I certainly have strong differences of opinion with a lot of evangelicals, I have a strange....attraction? interest? in them (I'm trying very hard to communicate that in a non-condescending way). I can understand why someone would become part of it, in the sense of needing support, of wanting to change one's elf for the better.

As far as feeling persecuted goes, I don't think that evangelicals or Christians are in any danger of being truly oppressed, but I can see how the portrayals of them as either illiterate buffoons or frothing demagogues would get irritating and how that irritation could become a sense of aggreivement.

I'm not making as much sense as I'd like.

* this Billy Joe Shaver lyric is a perfect illustration (and I think one of the most honest tales of conversion I've ever heard) of what I'm talking about.
posted by jonmc at 9:16 AM on September 10, 2005


wrong link to lyrics. correct one here. apologies.
posted by jonmc at 9:18 AM on September 10, 2005


The answer is that Christianity is a Virus of the Mind.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:35 AM on September 10, 2005


Also, religion is a culture club that those in power use to control vast swaths of people. So, unbeknownst to the little people running around with their arms flailing about, those ion power disseminate the 'under attack' dogma to increase their power. GOP is losing votes? It's immoral!
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:43 AM on September 10, 2005


And please, to prevent this from turning into a snark-fest, could people avoid piling on? Can we make this a completely non-hostile exchange of perspectives?

Thanks for respecting curtm's wishes , The Jesse Helms. But, i honestly don't think any less of you.
posted by jonmc at 9:45 AM on September 10, 2005


"...need to show a certain amount of respect and civility for certain beliefs."

It is difficult for me to show any respect whatsoever for the belief that there is some sort of immortal space-alien superman who hears your thoughts and grants your wishes. It's ridiculous on its face. I always try to make my disrespect civil, but I'm sure that people who hold such a belief realize that I am, in fact, attacking it.
posted by phhht at 10:17 AM on September 10, 2005


So what makes it okay for you to shit on the thread, phhht?
posted by Vidiot at 10:28 AM on September 10, 2005


Note: I am an atheist who was born Jewish. My friend John is a (observant) Christian. He's not a member here, but he felt he could add something to this discussion. He emailed me the following and suggested that I post it:

The question is good. I have two quick things to say immediately, and which I hope might be of help in framing discussion in this thread.

(1) The invitation at the end is for the Christians "to explain why they feel as they do." Bear in mind that lots of very traditional orthodox Christians would totally agree with what you say about the value of a secular government. C.S. Lewis for example wrote very sharply about the dangers of theocracy in any form. Therefore the invitation is for someone to explain why some Christians feel this way (that Uncle Sam is attacking their right to practice their faith).

(2) There's a sharp difference between feeling like your faith is under attack by the government and feeling like it is under attack by the Culture. I'll suggest that there are a lot of Christians who don't necessarily feel their faith is under threat by the government, but do feel that is under constant assault by the Culture (via movies, attitudes, etc.). Here's a way to think about the latter. Think about it as if you were a Christian parent -- it's natural and indeed I'd suggest rational to regard your child as under constant covert bombardment that undermines his faith, whether he is 7 years old or 14 or 21. I would suggest you bear that distinction in mind during the discussion.

It's worth pointing out Christianity has always viewed this in a way as being the case, even in the so called ages of faith. The World is always viewed both as the object of Christ's deepest love (and therefore ours) and yet that which hates him most (100% of us voted for Barrabas on Good Friday).

Full disclosure: I am a traditional creedal Christian.
posted by grumblebee at 10:30 AM on September 10, 2005


it seems that unless society specifically endorses their values, and their religious practices, they feel that the culture is hostile towards them.
This is the impression I have as well. The American public, the American community needs to assimilate their views in order for Christianity to be valid; that freedom retroactively erodes Christianity; that the country was founded on Judeo-Christian values (even though 7 of the 9 founding fathers did not beleive in the divinity of Jesus) so any move towards anything else is erosion of those values.

I don't think it is an entirely Christian idea, I think it is a fundamentalist Evangelical idea, as others have pointed out. I feel like part of the Evangelical community's urgency is the number of leaders in their community trying to make a name for themselves. The fact that they don't have a single leader to unite them allows them to make many different arguements on different fronts. As a Catholic, I have found this refreshing. I feel like a minority, that I can have my personal faith without as much attention on whatever the Pope says when Evangelicals are getting 90% of the attention.

While I haven't read this entire thread, I am perplexed that those hostile to religion would even comment in a thread that is specifically asking to try to understand the other point of view, not persecute it. Is trying to actually understand someone else that threatening?

Something I also haven't read yet but would still suggest, is Harper's article in their August issue, The Christian Paradox.
posted by scazza at 10:47 AM on September 10, 2005


It is difficult for me to show any respect whatsoever for the belief that there is some sort of immortal space-alien superman who hears your thoughts and grants your wishes. It's ridiculous on its face.

I'm an atheist, but I take strong issue with your claim that Christian cosmology is patently ridiculous. Have you seriously studied Christianity or are you simply saying, "I know a bunch of people with absurd beliefs"? I certainly know plenty of people with absurd beliefs. I know people who believe that science has proven that ESP exists. This doesn't mean science itself it absurd. It just means that some people are ill-informed about science.

Let's examine your claims more closely:

1) It's absurd that God is immortal. Why? Mortality isn't a physical law, like the speed of light or gravity. We die because things go wrong with our body. It should be possible, at least in principal, to construct an immortal being. So why is the very notion of an immortal being absurd?

2) It's absurd that God is a space alien. I don't know any Christians who claim that God is a space alien. Most Christians that I know -- unless they are very small children -- don't locate God "up in the sky." Perhaps you meant "space alien" as a metaphor for non-human. Well, there are plenty of non-human creatures on Earth, so clearly the idea of non-human isn't absurd. Do you think non-terrestrial intelligence is totally out of the question? If so, you're in a tiny minority. Most scientists believe extra-terrestrial intelligence is at least possible.

3) It's absurd that God is a superman. A superman is a being that is similar to a human but who has special powers that normal humans don't have, right? I don't think this is exactly the Christian conception of God, but what is absurd about this possibility? If we one day discover alien life, surely it will be different from human life -- with different abilities. Some of these abilities might be superior (super) to human abilities.

4) It's absurd that God hears your thoughts. Why? Thinking is a physical process. We are starting to develop machines that can tap into the brain and perform a crude kind of mind reading. Why couldn't a more advanced "creature" have refined this process?

5) It's absurd that God grants wishes. DOES God grant wishes? I know very few Christians who believe that if you ask God for a new car, he'll give it to you. Sure, SOME Christians believe this, but they may not be very educated about their own religion. Most Christians do pray to God, but prayer != wishing. Praying is talking to God. The chief point of Christianity is forming a relationship with God.

It DOES make sense to ask Christians, "Why do you believe in all that stuff?" Their beliefs aren't patently absurd, but just because something isn't absurd, that doesn't make it true or even likely. There's nothing absurd about claiming that there's a small island in the Pacific called Farmer's Island, but why should I believe in it?

Many Christians would say that they believe in God because (a) they FEEL that He exists and (b) believing in Him makes their lives better.

Well, I don't think feelings are a good basis for judging facts about the natural world, but if you force me to ground all my factual knowledge in first principals, at some point I have to admit that I base my knowledge on my senses. And sensory data is -- like feelings -- untrustworthy. (Yes, I base my knowledge on scientific findings, but how do I KNOW about those findings? By reading about them and hearing about them. Reading and hearing are things that I do via my unreliable senses.)

And I'm happy for them that believing makes their lives better. Unfortunately for me, I can't force belief on myself. Too bad. I would like to be happier.
posted by grumblebee at 11:08 AM on September 10, 2005


IMO, many of the "crazy" Christian beliefs are rooted in overly literal readings of descriptions of metaphysical ideas.

In fact, I'd say the same about most other "crazy" ideas in other religions.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:19 AM on September 10, 2005


#2 was one of the main reasons that churches opposed gay marriage here. They want the right to preach that homosexuality is corrupt and that same-sex marriage is evil and should not be tolerated, without having to worry about hate speech laws.

*Some* of the churches here, not all of them. The United Church of Canada (3,677 protestant congregations) has been performing gay marriages for some time, and has been an all inclusive congregation for decades. I have never seen a persecution complex displayed by any of it's members. Probably because they actively participate in the larger community and are therefore not afraid of it.
posted by zarah at 11:37 AM on September 10, 2005


Once again, my friend John emailed me -- this time correcting one of my mistakes.

The only one of your responses I'd qualify a bit is #5.

If someone claims Christians believe that every request they might make will be granted, that is obviously untrue. By logic alone, if Christian A asks that P come to pass, and at the same time Christian B prays that not-P comes to pass, it is certain that at least one of them will be disappointed.

What you go on to faintly imply, however, is that no serious Christian really asks God for concrete things, but rather prays only as a means of communion. That would be misleading. Petitionary prayer is an essential part of Christian life. Our Lord specifically instructs us to do this. He does it Himself (and is at one point refused by the Father).

But you are right that, even when we don't (apparently) get what we believe we have asked for, that does not necessarily phase a Christian, for two reasons. One is the reason you said: that prayer is not a shopping expedition. Even when we our petitions go ungranted, the very act of praying brought us close to the Lord which we discover each time was more important than getting what we want. The other reason is faith. If a child and parent are in perfect relationship at a particular moment, the child will have faith in him. Faith = trust. So ideally we trust that God has some reason for this, a reason that is not simply abstract or intellectual or removed, but a reason rooted in infinite and tender solicitude for me in particular.
posted by grumblebee at 12:37 PM on September 10, 2005


Coincidentally, back at Metafilter, someone brought up Franklin's thirteen virtues. They are Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Chastity, Tranquility, Humility. Not specifically, Christian of course, but for the sake of social argument and as examples of values, they'll do.

Many Christians (and many non-Christians for that matter) are dismayed, even alarmed at the extent that these virtues are so widely ignored, disparaged, in some circumstances punished. Even those liberal of temperament feel that their good nature is being abused by amoral businessmen, reactionary lawyers, and spineless politicoes.

An example (alluded to on the Simpsons, interestingly enough) - Try finding girl's clothing for say, a nine year old, that doesn't make her look like an experienced little tart. Not easy. Now consider what these means. There's a whole conveyor belt of of designers, manufacturers, marketers, and retailers responsible for this stuff. There is serious gulf between those who find this clothing appalling and those who don't see a problem with it.

In living memory there was a distinction between culture suitable for children and that suitable for adults, and never the twain should meet. Mass media has made this segregation more difficult, in some cases (e.g. internet porn) all but impossible. I mean to say, when the library cannot keep patrons from going to hotsteamysex.com in full view of the kiddies, how can you not feel that society is at least a little hostile to your values?

(NB also, those who are dumping on the faith- Christianity runs a gamut of attitudes. Some sects consider homosexuality damnable, other perform gay marriage.)

As a slight derail (and I'm surprised no one has brought it up), there is plenty of serious persecution of Christians across the world today.

On preview- grumblebee's friend is worth listening to.

(Does any of this help, by the way? Or are you still bewildered?)
posted by IndigoJones at 12:43 PM on September 10, 2005


Whether or not those on the Christian Right think that THEY are under attack or not, I (as a member of the Christian Left) think that questioning and challenging faith and politics are an important point of growth and development. The people who think that they are under attack do not like to be questioned...period. It doesn't matter what their faith or political party is.

The problem is that liberal Christians don't make sure their views get enough press, so they leave the field to those who go on and on about their illiberal interpretations...

Oh, trust me. Liberal Christians (as opposed to Fundamentalists) HAVE been trying to get press for an opposing Christian point of view. I personally write letters to editors/writers, call in to Public Radio, etc. etc. But our viewpoints aren't sexy or confrontational enough, I think. They simply aren't news.

Here is some information on/for Christians who lean towards the left, for someone upthread who was asking about that:

-Jim Wallis--recent appearances on The Daily Show, PBS, NPR, etc.
-Tony Campolo
-Ron Sider
-Brian McLaren
-and maybe you've heard of Bono :)

There are other Christian individuals and organizations who identify with more "left/liberal" than "right/fundamentalist" politics and ideology, and a summary of the movement can be found through Wikipedia's entry about the Christian Left or by researching "progressive Christianity".

Please be as careful not to assign all Christians with a fundamentalist viewpoint...as you would be not to assign all Muslims with a terrorist ideology.
posted by jeanmari at 12:50 PM on September 10, 2005


My Mother's family has a strong Methodist background; many have become ministers and even bishops. What she and others of her generation (60 something) complain constantly about is the secularization of the U. S. Government. I receive a steady stream of emails about how once again their beliefs are coming under attack because, for example, some judge has ruled that high school football games may no longer start with an official prayer.

Recently, I got a particularly shrill email saying someone tried to sue the government to remove "In God We Trust" from all legal tender. The email was all about how this "country was founded by Christians" and the "92% of all Americans have proclaimed themselves Christians" therefore "all of you liberal atheists can sit down and shut up."

My husband and I just sigh and tell each other, "Jeez, there's nothing stopping them from praying all they want, all we ask is that they don't force everybody else surrounding them to do so as well." But that isn't the point. They want their majority validated. They want to be reassured that America is a Christian Nation. And every time there is some sort of questioning of this stance-- they are "under attack."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:35 PM on September 10, 2005


Some writing by Christians on topics related to this question:

Stop Apologizing (Relevant Magazine, a Protestant Christian left/Emergent Church magazine)
Should I attend a public university? (Focus on the Family, Protestant Christian right)
posted by heatherann at 3:55 PM on September 10, 2005


Lying makes people paranoid. That's why.
posted by cleardawn at 5:48 PM on September 10, 2005


Oh Farmer's Island. Will I ever see your happy shores again?
posted by nanojath at 6:07 PM on September 10, 2005


From what I've read and heard what has already been brought up, the removal of "God" from the public sphere, is where much of the sense of attack is coming from. Also, it's obvious from some of the responses that the hostile manner that opposing views are shared helps foster this notion. That said, there is plenty of hostile rhetoric coming from the Christian sector that a feedback loop runs pretty strong. Mix that in with a bloody history of persecution of belivers and non-believers and it becomes clear why most of the current interaction can descend quite rapidly with a choice phrase or two.

I saw a documentary called God In Government that touches this subject fairly well from the Christian Coalition standpoint and others.
posted by john at 1:11 AM on September 11, 2005


"...need to show a certain amount of respect and civility for certain beliefs."

I'd just like to second the person who said this is utter tosh. The only beliefs (and people) we should respect are those which deserve respect. Period. Stupid beliefs do not deserve respect. Stupid, dangerous, retrograde beliefs deserve it even less. In fact, it is important that they be disrespected, so that their insidious power is attacked and undermined.

Anyway, back to the question, I think cleardawn's comment "Lying makes people paranoid" succinctly sums up my attitude, albeit rather more aggressively. I don't think religious people are really lying, because then they'd know that they were cleaving to untruths. They're believing and repeating untruth and nonsense, which is not quite the same thing. Still, the observation gets near the heart of the question, I think.
posted by Decani at 6:55 AM on September 11, 2005


A response from a Christian Leftist (journalist and ordained Baptist minister, Bill Moyers of PBS) that touches on some of the Christian Right's complaints about "their faith under attack" when it involves the separation of Church and State.

At the Central Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas, where I was baptized in the faith, we believed in a free church in a free state. I still do. My spiritual forebears did not take kindly to living under theocrats who embraced religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others. "Forced worship stinks in God's nostrils," thundered dissenter Roger Williams as he was banished from Massachusetts for denying Puritan authority over his conscience... LINK
posted by jeanmari at 3:19 PM on September 11, 2005


This seems to be a mainly US-centric discussion, which to me as a Brit, seems very appropriate. Because, from this side of the pond, the Christian victim culture looks like a very American thing. It also appears to be a very political thing. For a country which separates state and religion constitutionally, you seem incapable of separating the two in reality.

With such an outspoken Christian in the White House, and with the current administration's support for conservative, pro-Christian policies, why do you think so many people think their faith is under attack? Is it a snipe to say I think your government is using faith to bolster political support? It's very difficult to tell the difference between truth and propaganda, particularly when they claim to be acting in the name of your god.
posted by londonmark at 6:05 AM on September 12, 2005


Is it a snipe to say I think your government is using faith to bolster political support?

I don't believe it is a snipe. I believe it is what is happening. It's also interesting that many on the Christian Right don't see the disconnect between the words and deeds of this administration.
posted by jeanmari at 7:10 AM on September 12, 2005


And londonmark? If you've never heard the song, "God", by Pat McCurdy, you should really hunt it down. It's a hoot and the lyrics sum up the sentiments of the Christian Right. That's my opinion, anyway, as an active member of the Christian Left.

God loves capitalists more than communists
God loves fundamentalists more than Methodists
God loves Americans more than Canadians
God loves nuclear power
...
God votes Republican
The only way to get things done
God loves makin' dough
Don't like payin' taxes though
...

posted by jeanmari at 7:21 AM on September 12, 2005


Oh, what a fab song, thanks Jeanmari! I'm going to hunt it down and play it to my father's Texan friends over and over!
posted by londonmark at 8:34 AM on September 12, 2005


Hildago, just because Christians aren't a persecuted minority doesn't mean they're not under attack. Just read this thread, for example.

Maybe I didn't understand the original question, then. I thought "under attack" referred to something—excuse me here—meaningful. If this thread is an example of religious intolerance in this country, then holy smokes, we've sure come a long way in a short while, cause this thread is on a whole other end of the spectrum from what I think of when I think of religions being attacked. Coincidentally, I just finished reading The Power and the Glory last night, so maybe my threshold has been adjusted.
posted by Hildago at 12:38 PM on September 12, 2005


America is buying a load of "goods" from the Bush administration. There`s a cult of personality with the evangelistic movement at the forefront. Just as the the Christian Coalition is now beginnig to realize that Bush`s claim of christian affiliation was just a ploy to get him elected, America is waking to the fact that the terror threat, for the most part, is just fearing fear itself. But Bush is smart for realizing that he can play on that fear to advance his own agenda. If you`ll recall,Bush said immediately after the 911 attacks that we weren`t going to run or be afraid (paraphrasing). How many times after that have we heard that terrorists are coming out of the woodwork and that we should all be on the lookout. Suddenly anyone who looked Arabic was suspect. As far as the Christian conservatives who feel they`re being attacked,are those their thoughts or are they being played? A question they should ask themselves is," if I`m secure in my faith, then why am I so paranoid?"
posted by stinkfinger at 10:53 AM on April 17, 2006


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