A recent Pew study found that white American Evangelical Christians think they experience more discrimination than Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Atheists or Jews. Really?! Christianity is the majority religion in the U.S. and many kinds of legally ensconced religious privilege are on the rise including the right to woo converts in public grade schools, speculate in real estate tax-free, repair religious facilities with public dollars, or opt out of civil rights laws and civic responsibilities that otherwise apply to all. By contrast atheists are less electable than even philanderers, weed smokers or gays; Hispanics and Muslims are being told to leave; Jews get accused of everything from secret economic cabals to destroying America’s military; and unarmed Black youth continue to die at the hands of vigilantes.
As someone who considers himself to be good without God, I’m used to the astonishing hypocrisy when it comes to how people like me are viewed by society at large. As a whole, people like me rank below “philanderers, weed smokers, or gays”…and probably murderers, rapists, pedophiles, sexual predators, and Packers fans. It would be quite upsetting if I actually cared about how my theological choice is view. The hypocrisy is pretty amusing, though.
Despite the constitutional prohibition of religious litmus tests, seven states (including Texas) forbid atheists from running for public office. Such a restrictions is unconstitutional and would never withstand a court challenge. It does provide a glimpse of the hypocrisy and double standards of so many good, God-fearing white Conservative Christian Patriots when it comes to religious beliefs (or lack of same) different from their own.
Given the reality of other people’s lives, a widespread Evangelical perception of their group as mass victims reveals a lack of empathy that should make thoughtful believers cringe. And indeed, Alan Nobel, managing editor of Christ and Pop Culture, and a professor at Oklahoma Baptist University, wrote a pained analysis this summer of what he called Evangelical persecution complex. Nobel contrasted the privileged position of American Christians with the real and serious persecution Christian minorities experience under ISIS, for example, and he examined the ways in which victimization can become a part of Christian identity to the detriment of Christians and outsiders alike.
The idea that Christians are persecuted is a recurring theme in the New Testament. Anyone who’s ever attended a sermon or a Sunday School class has been taught that Christians have been and continue to be the object of persecution. There’s a LONG list of Bible verses which give voice to the persecution complex endemic to the teachings of the Christian faith.
Man, it’s a wonder Christians can get anything at all done, eh? Given how much persecution they face, you’d think they’re spending most of their time and energy defending themselves.
Or perhaps they’re really aren’t persecuted, but merely using that argument as a means to keep Christians in line? Propaganda, when combined with a persecution complex, can be a wondrous thing, eh? How else are you going to keep them angry and obedient? If they’re focused on their self-perceived persecution by those who “hate” Christians, how will they have the energy to consider how they’re being manipulated?
Don’tcha just LOVE religion??