As true persecution mounts against those of minority religions and beliefs and lifestyles, the privileged beat their breasts and wail to the heavens, not to draw attention to these oppressions against the minorities, but to drown out the very real suffering of others by claiming a worse persecution - even if they have to create the persecution themselves in order to wail about it.
We all know who these people are. They are plastered all over the news, giving sound bytes of how bad they have it. I don't know if they sought out the media themselves or if the media is attracted to them like flies to rotting meat, but they do have a dominant share of media attention, crowding out stories of real disasters and persecutions with their loud lamentations.
Sadly, I personally know some of these people. The most vociferous ones I know are Caucasian men, in their late 40's/early 50's, homeowners with more than one late model vehicle, gun owners/collectors, well-fed, never even received speeding ticket (indeed, some of them are in law enforcement or retired from it), college educated, employed in a prestigious field or retired from one, and wealthy enough to travel as they please, reasonably confident they won't be hassled on their trips. These aren't the only type, of course, but this is the type my acquaintances and co-workers and colleagues run to.
I can't make real generalizations because I don't actually know - in person - a large cross section of the type of Christian who is bleating about being persecuted, but I can certainly talk about the ones I know and the ones I see in the media, so when I speak of "Christians" here, those are generally the ones I'm speaking of, not the ones like my friends - those who are Christian are kind, generous, gentle, strong, funny, caring, giving people who are as appalled and as annoyed with the whiny Christians as I am. I wish there was a good way to distinguish the bleating Christians from all the rest of the Christians. I don't want readers thinking I am painting all Christians with the same brush when I'm not. I do know the difference between the different subsets of Christians. With that in mind, I shall blunderingly proceed.
I watched a speech on TED by Seth Godin called "This is Broken", and his rule, "If I think it's broken, then it's broken." Just kept echoing in my head as I watched the Tea Party interviews from Washington, DC, and politicians smugly saying, "I'm a good Christian, vote for me to keep the Christian lifestyle in America", and as I read facebook and twitter posts and comments about how attacked these people felt.
Obviously, they think something is broken. Their method to fix it is to - shout over everyone else that they are persecuted?
I have to pause here to ask just what they think persecution is. I've asked the Christians I know who are perpetuating the persecution theme, and they all repeat the same things to me (almost verbatim): "they" want to close down all the churches, "they" are taking over our government, "they" are preventing good Christians from praying, "they" want to take away Christmas (or take it over, there's some mixed views on this), and "they" are pushing their agenda on Christians. When pressed for the "agenda", they mumble.
Truth: there are too many Christian churches in the US for any one agency to close them all down. While many churches are being sold or sitting empty, it isn't because the churches have been shut down by outside forces; they've been abandoned - either because the congregation isn't there or because the congregation outgrew the church buildings they used. There have been zero churches shut down by some conspiracy or some other religion. New churches are being built all the time. It's true that some churches are vandalized, but that's a local phenomenon and usually targeting something other than Christianity.
No one wants to close down churches. Churches, when well run, provide a lot of good in a community. Sadly, many churches are not as well-run as they could be and are out-of0touch with their local community. Perhaps these Christians should look inside themselves and their churches to see where the internal problem is instead of blaming it on amorphous outside forces
Truth: 90% (or possibly more) of our politicians are Christian. It is very, very difficult for anyone not a Christian to gain an elected office. When a non-Christian does gain an elected office, it's because the registered voters who bothered to vote elected them. They didn't just take over the offices.
Name me 10 random politicians, and chances are, all 10 are Christian. Or - name me 10 politicians who are not Christian.
Like it or not, our government is strongly entrenched in Christianity and any attempt to take it over by any other existing religion is pretty doomed right now and probably for the next half century.
Truth: no one wants to stop anyone from praying. Christians are completely free to pray wherever they will whenever they want - as long as they don't force anyone around them to participate who chooses not to. Students can pray in school as long as those prayers aren't broadcast via microphone or PA system so that everyone wily-nily is forced to listen and participate. If they want to say a prayer before they eat lunch or take a test, they certainly can. People at work can pray whenever they want - so long as they don't force their prayer onto their co-workers. Eating out at a restaurant? Of course Christians can pray before they eat - so long as they don't expect the whole restaurant to come to a standstill while they do so. See the trend here? It's not the praying that anyone objects to, it's being forced to participate. Pray where you will, when you want, just don't expect everyone else to be as excited and involved.
Truth: No one wants to take away Christmas. What people really want is for other holidays occurring around the same time of year to also be recognized with a little more than the token blue strings of lights and the blue and silver wrapping paper and maybe the blue and silver dreidels that are set aside for the Jews who celebrate Christmas or to be used for Chanukah. Christians are quite free to celebrate their holy day as they always have. Now, I do happen to feel that we shouldn't get Christmas Day as a legally recognized paid holiday, but if companies wanted to give it to their employees without the force of law behind it, I'm cool with that; just as I'd be cool with businesses giving Diwali off or Eid al fitr or Solstice or Yule or Easter or Halloween or Samhain or whatever they choose as holidays. Why not Fnord Day? To be absolutely honest, the only legally recognized paid holidays I think we should have are the secular ones that are directly related to important events in our country: Election Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Memorial Day, V-Day, Veterans Day, Presidents Day, that sort of thing. I'm sort of divided by Thanksgiving - I don't like "Thanksgiving" itself, but I do like the thought of a Family Reunion holiday where families all get together to renew their familial ties, eat potluck, play games, catch up on family gossip, watch football, and listen to the kids all screaming as they play.
Christmas? Sure, have it. The only people getting all twisted and outraged about Christmas are other Christians. The rest of us don't celebrate it and care as much about it as Christians care about Cookie Day, Sinternacht, Yule, Solstice, and all those other winter holidays. Christians don't have an exclusive on the date, because there are only 365 days in the year (excluding Leap Year) and there are bound to be overlaps between important dates of different religions. Christians can celebrate it their way, and everyone else can celebrate it their way and on their dates. It's all cool. And that's the truth.
Truth: Christians need to be precise about who "they" are, and then they have to be able to articulate that "agenda" before anyone will really take them seriously. Right now, it sounds like foil beanie time among those Christians, with conspiracy theories abounding and precious little in the way of facts.
Most American Christians have no clue what true persecution is. CP (for Christian Person, since I didn't want to share her name because it isn't about her, it's about people who share her point of view and they are all Christian, ergo, generic Christian Person), the object of my previous post on privilege and persecution, thinks persecution is having someone disagree with her, or having someone say they aren't Christian, or having someone say they'd like it if they could get an important holy day off as a holiday the way Christians get Christmas off. Her response is that everyone gets Christmas off, and we should all be grateful to have that day off - with pay! And to say, mildly, that we'd rather work on December 25th - a day that is meaningless to us - and have December 12th off instead, sets CP off crying "persecution!"
That's not what persecution is.
Persecution is the Wiccan mother who lost custody of her child because the judge used her religion against her in the custody hearing, and then again in the appeal even though they are not allowed to use religion as a deciding factor in custody cases. (I will put up a post with all the links later - I have to find the ones that went missing or find replacement ones and that can take some time).
Persecution is being driven to suicide by your classmates because you're Wiccan.
Persecution is not being allowed access to a chaplain sympathetic to your beliefs in the hospital, in prison, or in the military.
Persecution is not being allowed to marry in your faith because the county clerk's office refuses to recognize your religion as legitimate.
Persecution is having rocks thrown at you because someone thinks you're a witch, when you're neither a witch nor a Wiccan, but Hellenic.
Persecution is having your pet killed and its heart left with a note written in its blood saying "You're next" even though the courts ruled in your favor.
Those who can instigate persecution are privileged, not persecuted.
I was going to pull up links and quotes for the past 5 years, but realized that if I merely documented the actual religious persecutions of the past 12 months, I would exceed several pages, so I decided to just hit the more spectacular ones of the past 5 years and still exceeded several pages, so I narrowed it down further to only the ones that were more representative and well known.
I could not find any articles of actual persecutions perpetuated against Christians that were not instigated by other Christians, and I’m not going to get involved in their family bickering. I could not find any documented instances of persecutions against Christians in the US by our government, or some governing body. Persecution is defined as deliberately and maliciously causing harm with the force of the law behind the harmful acts. A religion is not persecuted if it is caused to comply with the same laws with which all other religions must comply, for example: requiring people to remove religious based jewelry of one religion if all other religions may not wear their religious jewelry. The corollary is persecution: being forced to remove religious jewelry belonging to a different religion than the religious jewelry worn by others; they can wear theirs but you can't wear yours.
So, randomly, here are some links on religious persecution of various sorts.
A Southeast Arkansas woman who argued she lost custody of her son because of a judge’s perception of her alleged practice of Wicca lost her appeal Wednesday before a divided state Court of Appeals Wednesday. In a 4-2 ruling, the appeals court affirmed a decision granting custody to the child’s father, though the judges disagreed on whether the lower court considered the mother’s religious beliefs. In her appeal of Chicot County Circuit Judge Robert Vittitow’s decision, the mother noted Vittitow described Wicca in his opinion letter as ‘a religion, movement, cult or whatever it that may be.’
And this occurred in our very own Senate on July 12, 2007: “…two women and one man were arrested and charged with causing a disruption in the public gallery of the Senate. The three started shouting when guest Chaplain Rajan Zed, a Hindu from Nevada, began his prayer. They shouted ‘No Lord but Jesus Christ’ and ‘There’s only one true God,’ and used the term ‘abomination.’”
I could go on for many pages like this, pulling up news articles and reports of real persecution acts against people of various religions that aren't Christian, but all the reports I could find of Christians being harassed were reports of Christians against Christians, and I'm not going to step into a family dispute (as it were). I couldn't find any news articles of Christians being denied custody of their children because they were Christian, or of Christians being fired from their jobs for being Christian or of Christians having their pets killed because they were Christians.
If anyone has links, I'd be happy to see them.