Via Steve Benen, I learned the exciting news that Republicans Trent Franks and EW Jackson believe that American Christians are under attack. There is a “profound threat” not just to Christianity but to the mythical “Christian foundations in this country.” What’s more, Jackson asked Franks the important “Woe is me!” question, “What is the level of threat, as you see it, compared to where Christians are in terms of perceiving that threat… with this drumbeat of atheism that attacks everything, ‘get the cross down,’ ‘don’t show a Bible,’ ‘don’t wear a cross,’ ‘don’t say God bless you’? It just seems like every day we’re hearing some new effort to try to shut Christians up and shut us down.” Franks responds that this list of Christian abuse is “so right.”
What’s so pathetic about this is Christian persecution is mostly a myth. While it is true that early Christians were fed to the lions and similarly abused, they were not treated this way because they were Christians. They were treated this way because they broke the law. In some cases, Christians appear to have engaged in terrorism as a way of hastening the second coming. There is no evidence that gentle, law-abiding Christians were being martyred for their beliefs.
But Christians have long believed this myth, so over the years we’ve seen any number Christians force martyrdom on themselves. And usually this was in the cause of one set of Christians versus another. For example, Joan of Arc, was not murdered by some unwashed people; she was murdered by fellow Christians. And that’s generally been the case: Christians persecute each other as well as the unwashed. That’s something that most Christians don’t want to admit: even allowing the myth of persecution, for the vast majority of it’s history, Christianity has been the persecutor, not the persecuted.
But today, persecution comes really cheep. American Christians aren’t being killed. No! They are being forced to hear retail clerks at Target say “Happy holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” Can you imagine? What a horror! And then nativity scene are not allowed on government property, so they can only been seen on every other street corner. How will the Christians ever get their message out? I mean besides big budget films, television shows, radio, books, loons on the street, billboards, churches everywhere, and of course, all the pushy Christians who come to my door out of a misreading of the Bible? Besides all those things and more, how can the Christians practice their religion?
As of 2011, America is 75% Christian. Yet among conservative Christians, there is a constant attack on them. This, I’m afraid, comes from their status as a dominant majority. I discussed this a couple of years ago, Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas. What’s happened is that Christianity was the default for many years. This wasn’t because Americans were particularly devout. It was just that the Soviet Union was explicitly atheist, so then America had to be a nation of believers. And Christians mistook this for the idea that Christianity is “true” as opposed to all those other religions. So when someone says “Happy Holidays!” it is oppressing Christians because it doesn’t give them special status as believers in The Truth™.
So the next time you hear a Christian whining about how oppressed they are, you know: what they mean is that people aren’t treating them as though they are special. Saint Sebastian had to suffer arrows and then an eventual beating to death. Modern Christians have to suffer a minority not taking their religion as seriously as they do. Oh, the pain!