March 29, 2006

"The 'War on Christmas' has morphed into a 'War on Christians.'"

Presumably, these "War on Christians" people have some valid complaints, so why are they adopting a label that is so offputting and makes them look like idiots and paranoids? The answer is obvious: They're only talking to each other.

100 comments:

Joan said...

See, I think the incidents mentioned in the article are pretty lame. They could've come up with much better examples of a cultural war on Christianity, like this recent protest in San Francisco of a group of Evangelical teen-agers attending a Christian rock concert.

I think these people need to emphasize that it is, as I said above, a cultural war. Christians (especially Catholics) and fat people are the last two groups it's still socially acceptable to mock. For the Christians, it has progressed beyond social acceptability in some circles (Bill Maher's crowd) to nearly a social responsibility: they not only disrespect Christianity and denigrate Christians, they expect that everyone else agrees with them -- notwithstanding the millions of Christians in this country. (Boy, are we stupid!)

Yes, there is hyperbole here -- but I don't have a problem with it, given recent events. How else to describe 2004's successful (and expensive) campaign to remove that teeny-tiny cross from Los Angeles County seal? There's a trend here, and it's not going away.

Dave said...

Why are they adopting a moniker that makes them look like idiots and paranoids?

I suppose it would be too simple to respond, because the are idiots and paranoids?

AJ Lynch said...

Joan:

Said it's still OK to mock Christians and fat people. I'd add the following to her list:
Scientology, Convenience store owners (think the Simpson's Apu), Germans, Husbands and especially fathers, rednecks, Bush's intelligence (but not the local mayor's), corporate wealth and fatcats (but not trust fund wealth and its liberal fatcats) and SUV drivers.

Sloanasaurus said...

I disagree. Clearly there are some "secularists" if you want to call them that who are really only interested in going to war over traditionalist America. So they do things such as try to Ban innocous things such as Christmas trees and the Easter bunny. They do it under the ruse of fighting for the opppressed or those victimized by traditionalist America. It's all a sham. These "warmongers" know that Easter Bunnies and Chistmas trees are not oppression - the warmongers just want war and they want to maintain the war because it is what they live for. Further the risk is low for the secularists, because defeat just means regrouping for the next attack and they know that the coalition defending tradition is to fragile to mount a counter-offensive. On the other side, those defending traditionalist America know that defeat will be total.

Morphing the issue into an attack on Christians is good tactics. it is a feint counter-offensive and will require the warmongers to watch their backs. It helps in streghtining the coaliton fighting to defend tradition and in fighting back the warmongers who want to destroy American traditions for no other reason than to pat themselves on the back and say they won.

SteveR said...

We who call ourselves Christians would do better with our energy to focus on raising our kids and being a positive presence in our communities. "Evangelicals" in this sense are an agenda driven political entity, and although I may agree with many of their positions (certainly not all of them) I think there are better ways to get the point across than complaining.

PatCA said...

In terms of religion, Christians are the only acceptable demons in the media but I think it has more to do with the maturation and effectiveness of the advocacy industry than with outright hate--but the ACLU is definitely anti-Christian. Look at any cop show on movie--it's always some Christian nut killing or bombing. Look at Lost, as I mentioned before, unless I missed something, only the African or Af-Am characters are devout. If Christianity is part of an "other" or privileged culture, is it then okay?

BTW I'm an agnostic. I just think it's sad that we haven't done away with stereotypes at all, we have just replaced one with another.

Bruce Hayden said...

I do wonder whether the rise in attacks on Christianity (esp. Catholics and Evangelicals) has some part in that this country seems to be becoming more religious, not less so, esp. compared to Europe.

Christianity has always prospered in adversity and oppression. Jesus was killed for opposing the establishment, as were many of his followers. Between then and the conversion of Constantine, Christians were routinely martyred, while growing as a faith until their takeover of the Roman Empire was assured.

We see this even today. The guy who was going to be killed in Afganistan recently is not alone there. There is a fast growing missionary movement there, and he won't be the last.

Compare this to other religions. Islam, for example, has grown primarily through conquest (though I do agree that that doesn't explain its growth here). During the time that Christianity went from being a small Jewish sect, to one of the main religions of the world, its parent religion grew very slowly.

So, maybe the purveyers of the War on Christians meme are onto something - that their faith grows fastest when facing adversity.

Bruce Hayden said...

And maybe this is the problem - how does a religion that does best in adversity thrive when the presidents of our country openly pray, and, in the case of Clinton and Carter, even preach?

Yes, I do think that there is a bias in some quarters against Christians, esp. devout ones. But I also think that that bias is used by them for their own ends too.

monkeyboy said...

Isn't 'the war on.." pretty common language for those who compain about opression? The war on women, the war on young black men etc?

Sean said...

Gee, compared to the rhetoric that emanates from the typical university campus, these Christians seem pretty moderate. (I mean, try reading Prof. Balkin on the current state of constitutional liberties in America. Or anything written by Prof. Leiter.) I'm curious if Prof. Althouse simply can't hear her academic colleagues, or thinks them too trivial to merit comment. Or maybe it's just not in her political interest to mock other professors.

Ross said...

The event Joan points to above is a prime example of latter-day liberal "tolerance."

However, given that politically active conservative Christians are in fact engaged in a campaign to roll back rights that have been established for a generation (i.e., Roe vs. Wade, and take a gander at South Dakota if you think I'm exaggerating), they certainly shouldn't be immune from backlash.

The problem with basing politics so heavily on religion -- as a slice of America does -- is that political disputes morph into attacks on religion. I couldn't care less what church my neighbor attends, but when he starts trying to screw up my daughter's science education and control her reproductive choices in the name of religion, you're damn right I'll attack his so-called Christianity.

misterfed said...

"Gentlemen, we need to come up with a politicized term. A term we can misuse to label anyone who disagrees with even the least of our political goals. A label suggesting that anyone who does not buy our entire agenda is mentally ill. Something like what the queers did with 'homophobia.'"

"Uh .... Americahate? Puppymalice? Uh ... Christophobia?"

"BRILLIANT! Christophobia! But keep the puppy one in our back pocket."

YAMB said...

Sloanasaurus, just what does the Easter Bunny have to do with anything religious? I really mean the question.

I am a religious person. We do not "do" the Easter Bunny in our house. Those who are serious about their faith should see USE of the Easter Bunny as an attack on Christianity, and real Christians should shun it.

LizrdGizrd said...

YAMB said: should see USE of the Easter Bunny as an attack on Christianity, and real Christians should shun it.

Or we could recognize the easter bunny as an evolution of the pagan equinox celebrations. It's just an excuse to buy more stuff to give to kids. The easter bunny is not an attack on Christianity, it is a chance for the retail community to piggy-back on a holiday most Americans (used to?) celebrate in order to make a buck.

Elizabeth said...

monkeyboy, it's longtime propaganda talk as well: the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on terror.

AJ, I enjoy mocking all those on your list, including your exceptions. Not mock trust fund kids? Come on. Have you met my mayor, Willie Wonka Nagin? Get real.

As amply demonstrated on this forum, the "war on Christians" is more of the right's pathological need to be a victim, to rouse support by creating a specter of a demon.

The gays want to destroy the family! The liberals want to take all your money! The leftwing bigots don't tolerate us when we call them god-hating pedophiles! They don't want good Christian government!

SteveR said...

YAMB: as near as I understood it..

Easter Bunny says Easter and Easter says Christianity and Christianity could be offensive. Not to be confused with the Energizer Bunny who is not offensive (even though he's a bunny), nor is Peter Rabbit (even though Peter was a disciple of Jesus) nor is Althouse commenter Dave (even though David was a Jewish King)

Dave said...

SteverR:

I don't understand what you're trying to imply in your comment, above.

Ann Althouse said...

Elizabeth: "As amply demonstrated on this forum, the "war on Christians" is more of the right's pathological need to be a victim, to rouse support by creating a specter of a demon."

I thought the right-wing thing was to mock victimology!

SteveR said...

Dave: just pointing out that just because of a name, is no reason to be offended. I really wasn't going any further than that.

Thorley Winston said...

Said it's still OK to mock Christians and fat people. I'd add the following to her list:
Scientology, Convenience store owners (think the Simpson's Apu), Germans, Husbands and especially fathers, rednecks, Bush's intelligence (but not the local mayor's), corporate wealth and fatcats (but not trust fund wealth and its liberal fatcats) and SUV drivers.


I think you may want to include another category of people that it’s still OK to mock: white Southerners.

Thorley Winston said...

I thought the right-wing thing was to mock victimology!

No, the right-wing thing is to mock the overuse of exclamation points!

;)

knoxgirl said...

Not sure how I feel on this one.

I think the whole "War on Christmas" thing is just embarassing, and conservatives with any sense should drop it like a hot potato because it does make them look like idiots.

At the same time, liberals really despise Christians, at least my friends and the people I work with do! Maybe it's because I'm down here in a Bible Belt-y area liberals feel on the defensive... but there is definitely some hostility and if I were Christian I'm sure I'd be feeling defensive about it.

P.S. Scientologists *should* be mocked, ruthlessly.

P.P.S. whoever said the other day that the word verifications are getting longer and harder to decipher is right

Thorley Winston said...

Dave: just pointing out that just because of a name, is no reason to be offended. I really wasn't going any further than that.

Oh come on, fess up. You know that you were trying to lead us all to think that Dave was really the Energizer Bunny . . . ;)

Synova said...

Well I'm happy to see that at least a couple of people have alluded to the impending theocracy. ;-)

The people protesting the youth rally in San Francisco don't bother me. The fact that the City Council passed a resolution condemning the Christian youth gathering I find *very* troubling. This isn't private citizens but the government issuing a formal disapproval of legal religious expression.

True, it will energize rather than discourage further, similar, expression. That's how it works.

In general, though, the "war" on Christianity is probably an artifact of our increasingly skewed understanding of tolerance. That doesn't apply just to Christians, of course, but to any public expression of faith or potentially "offensive" opinion. Christians are a big group and are reacting to something very real, even if it is not purposefully directed at them.

Rather than *tolerating* diverse expression, we are increasingly *supressing* expression in the interest of preventing offense. Rather than valuing free speech we value the care taken not to offend someone elses sensibilities.

If it's removing a bunny display in St. Paul or refusing to reprint mohammad cartoons or outlawing offensive speech on campuses, it's all about creating "tolerance" by limiting public expression of diversity. If everyone is speaking, the minority opinion will feel the weight of the minority opinion and thus be oppressed, so the thing to do is to make sure that doesn't happen.

If we go back to the SF City Council (or Supervisors or whatever their local structure is)... what happened to disagreeing with what people may say but defending, to the death, their right to say it? True, the rally was not disallowed, but since when is it the proper role of a government unit to determine what religious expression or opinions are acceptable and which are not?

The truth is that we "tolerate" only the opinions of which we approve.

And so far very few people seem to be catching on to the fact that this is *not* what the word means.

Thorley Winston said...

knoxgirl pretty much nailed it. The “war on Christians” is not a theme I’d feel comfortable getting behind because I don’t want conservatives to get into playing the “politics of victim hood.” That being said, I don’t doubt that the Left (which is not necessarily the same as the Democrat Party) hates Christianity and the “war on Christians” theme is simply a way of putting that out front and center and using the inevitable backlash that comes from spitting in the face and faith of 80-90 percent of the public into helping to win elections. Not the tactic I would prefer but it’s hard to argue with success.

Troy said...

The war on Christians is not in the form these idiots think or in the way you so easily dismiss (and Elizabeth). The slide towards the lack of any absolute standard since the Enlightenment is easily seen in social science, education and in the law.

These minor scenes painted are just symptoms. Thinking "well 80% of the U.S. claims to be Christian so it's impossible for there to be a war on Christians" is simplistic in the extreme. Does it really have to be said that just because someone claims to be "Christian" doesn't mean they are in fact "Christian" (meaning Christ-like). I would wager that most of those 80% would melt away like snowballs in Hell at the first sign of real persecution .

Since secularists have no idea what it means to be a true Christian they cannot be expected to understand the cultural slide from that perspective or even to perceive any slide whatsoever. [insert caricature of beliefs here concerning how that entails sexism, homophobia, racism here]

Unfortunately, many Christians fall into the "politics will save us" fallacy. Are we anywhere near China or Sudan in a war on Christians? Absolutely not. The war here is more subtle.

Verification word: grnhs -- how environmentally dangerous.

Dave said...

The left hates Christianity?

That must be why Slick Willie and his cohorts are constantly supplicating at various churches. Because they hate them.

If "the left" hates Christianity where does that leave renowned leftist Christians such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and, yes, Slick Willie?

Finally, it should be noted that there are many liberals who identify themselves as Christian; we really to believe, then, that liberal Christians suffer from self-loathing?

The notion that "the left" universally hates Christians is patently absurd.

Troy said...

My previous post may be interpreted to say that a secularist cannot perceive a slide in morality, etc. I did not intend that. Christians do not have a monopoly on moral issues. Sorry for the inadequate expression in the prior post. I meant that a secularist couldn't understand it from the perspective of a sincere believer.

AJ Lynch said...

Elizabeth:

Re trust fund wealth, I meant the arrogant folks who run organizations like the Pew, Ford Foundation etc. To many, they are sacred cows and the MSM cowtows to them and never scrutinizes. I did not mean trust fund babies.

Re Nagin,, I have not seen his background or intelligence questioned in the MSM. And in Philly, we have nothing but nitwits in local offices and the MSM would never look into their colege grades, etc.

Knoxgirl:
I agree there is real hatred oi Christian voices. In the AWOC (American war on christmas), the MSM columnists who claimed AWOC did not exist were almost and blatantly anti-christian. They made too much of a stink aboutsomething they claimed was non-existent.

Troy said...

Dave your understanding of Christianity is simplistic. There are people in churches everyday who are clock-punchers, poseurs, etc. Attending a church service says very little about the sincerity of one's faith or love for the Church or Christianity. This attitude knows no political affiliation. There are righties and lefties and centrists taking up pew space.

I would doubt slick willie, slick jessie and slick al are sincere believers. That is obviously not the final word on that and is ultimately not my call of course. But to view the carrying of a Bible or the title Rev. as indicative of sincere belief is a tad naive.

That's like saying everyone living within the borders of the U.S. is a patriot and loves the U.S.

Wade_Garrett said...

There isn't a war on Christianity in this country, and if these privileged people living in their lilly-white suburbs in the south and southwest think that they are being persecuted, they either do not know the meaning of the term or else they are simply desperate for attention.

There are a lot of Christian symbols in our public life, everything from "In God We Trust" to "God save this honorable court" to Christmas trees. Traditionally, there weren't non-Christians around to protest, either because they just weren't there (many of these small-town evangelicals never meet a non-Christian until adulthood, my college roommate was one example) or else they were around, but weren't in a position to complain. Now that they are, this is what's happening.

I think that a lot of the hysteria is really out of place -- renaming a Christmas tree a "holiday tree" is mere semantics and shouldn't offend anybody who has a life. But what bothers me is that these evangelicals can't fathom that anybody would be offended by their public display of religion. If a Jew was elected mayor of some town in the south, and wanted to spend the taxpayer's money on a huge Mennorah to display in the town square, people would lose their minds. Similarly, some would-be parents are now being refused by adoption agencies because they aren't Christian. If that was the other way around, Bill O'Reilly would never let us hear the end of it. These people need to grow up.

FXKLM said...

I think many of you seriously misunderstand the motives of the separation of church and state advocates. For most of us, it has nothing to do with minority oppression. The Establishment Clause is a part of the Constitution, and so it should be enforced strictly without regard to policy considerations or public opinion. That's an extremely non-consequentialist view of law, which is the essence of conservative jurisprudence.

Christianity was created to console a suffering and oppressed people. Realizing that actually fighting oppression was quite difficult, they instead created a value system that glorified the suffering and oppressed. This system worked quite well for a few centuries. Early Christians were harshly persecuted, and in their strange, masochistic value system, this was fantastic. Then, Christianity became the dominant religion in the West and Christians have craved victimhood ever since. The most successful method has traditionally been joining smaller denominations and claiming oppression at the hands of other Christians.

That, I think, explains the Christian politics of victimology. It's common among leftist groups, but they picked it up from Christians, not the other way around.

Dave said...

Troy, you're a presumptuous and arrogant one, aren't you?

I suppose you're too sincere a believer, though, to see the folly of your comments.

Synova said...

"Finally, it should be noted that there are many liberals who identify themselves as Christian; we really to believe, then, that liberal Christians suffer from self-loathing?"

Not self loathing, but the firm belief that being tolerant requires living your religious faith in a closet so that they don't offend anyone.

paul a'barge said...

"because the [sic] are idiots and paranoids".

Way to make their case for them. I rest mine.

Synova said...

"But what bothers me is that these evangelicals can't fathom that anybody would be offended by their public display of religion. If a Jew was elected mayor of some town in the south, and wanted to spend the taxpayer's money on a huge Mennorah to display in the town square, people would lose their minds."

So what's the answer to that, terry?

Do we suppress expression of religion so that no one is offended? Or do we insist on freedom of expression in the public square for all religions?

Do we adopt a uniformly intolerant policy or a uniformly tolerant one?

Personally, I'd like the Wiccans to find an acceptable option to sky-clad for public events, but NO ONE should feel that they can't express themselves in public. The "what about a mennorah" isn't a good example anyhow. Most Christians would decide that it was a grand idea. Wicca at least pushes people's limits.

Our local community center has a posted "no religious activities" rule.

terry... why shouldn't local wiccans be allowed to use the community center? How about a buddist/oriental medicine group? Why should they be barred from public facilities? This is the South-West so how about letting Native American shamanistic groups use the community center? It's a community center and should be available to the community. (And, BTW, the Christians aren't hurt by this because most Christians have facilities of their own.)

We can't promote tolerance unless we actually are determined to *tolerate* diversity. We don't get tolerance as a result of being intolerant.

People claiming that Christians aren't going to be hurt by this are correct. The *Christians* aren't hurt by this.

david bennett said...

A lot of it is a perception thing. Most of us are going to say there are fringes with some wacky ideas, but a lot at the fringes including a currently very powerful right see those fringes as reality. For us or against us.

Their sense of "war" is in fact driven by their seeing society as mirror images of themselves. This is how they fight their battles.

They also view themselves as opressed no matter how much power they acquire. Limbaugh built his entire identity on being a perpetual "victim of victims." He and hen his listeners would delve the nation for any thing that confirmed this and because there are lots of ridiculous bureaucrats and activists they could be abused many times daily.

Coupled with this is a lack of responsibility. For example the first response one is likely to get for what I have just written is, "yeah, but look at the left!"

Sure, there are a lot of idiots there. Some mirror the right. But the fact that the other side is also flawed is not an excuse for poor behavior. But the position of the right is that if they are caught committing murder is to say "How about Charlie Manson?"

And at this point they claim superior "personal responsibility."

My personal guess is that this powrful political/cultural is crumbling. Many conservative evangelicals are moving away from it as they wish to stress the positive not the negative. And of course the logic of these appeals to repression always goes from "some non believers" are enagged in vicious attcks against us to "all non believers" all government, all the press and then if it did dominate one would have to start eliminating the "non Christians" such as Catholics and Mormans, those who don't accept conscious baptism and being born aggain as necessity...

It is the logic of fanaticism, but infact most people even those who have bundled themselves up with it or used as a major force in the drive to power (today's national Republican party) are in conflict with it.

And please don't tell me about the politics of Barbara Boxer et al. I don't deny irrationality or negative influences by the left, I even admit many members have similar psychologies, certainly communist groups do.

But I believe the influence and the dynamics have differences, for one thing the right is better able to unite and organize, the thing is to study how these forces became so powerful in the Republican party and what they are turning into.

My guess is that they are going to follow their natural tendencies to absurdity, exclusion and paradox, blowing up leaving the party as muddled and divided as the Dems.

Forces in the Dems who imitate this approach and class all Republicans or Bush supporters or people who supported the war as being of the Delay type may succeed in gaining increased influence, but I suspect this will (as t has in the past) weaken the Dems, not strengthen them as it has done with the Republicans.

Personally I applaud the muddle and confusion, were vots are not always clearly drawn along party lines, were issues arec debated and developed independantly and not as part of a platform.

I think it possible that we shall see more hopeful times as the communist like entity of the Republican party atches it's "common front" collapse and retreats into greater absurdity with it's blaming "double plus ungood" for problems in Iraq and elsewhere and faith that "plus good thoughts" make (faith based) realtity and the problem is ideological impurity caused by a growing number of traitors.

Like the PLO and other organizations they are simply not suited for power, they must be a revolutionary organization and failures must be blamed on the oppressor. In this case the secret enemy such as that that defeated Germany in WWI.

Already the war against Christams and undoubtedly the war against Christians has made veiled referances to the Jew who for some reason is always a central part of such things (see Stalin.)

Freeman Hunt said...

Already the war against Christams and undoubtedly the war against Christians has made veiled referances to the Jew who for some reason is always a central part of such things (see Stalin.)

What are you referring to? Do you have a link or citation for this?

Thorley Winston said...

The left hates Christianity?

Pretty much.

That must be why Slick Willie and his cohorts are constantly supplicating at various churches. Because they hate them.

Gee, it’s almost as if I didn’t write that “[the Left] is not necessarily the same as the Democrat Party.” Oh wait, I did write that.

If "the left" hates Christianity where does that leave renowned leftist Christians such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and, yes, Slick Willie?

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are to Christianity what their buddy Louis Farrakhan is to Islam. And not just because they have the same attitudes towards “the Jews.”

Finally, it should be noted that there are many liberals who identify themselves as Christian; we really to believe, then, that liberal Christians suffer from self-loathing?

Yes and many Leftists also like to identify themselves as being “independents” as “moderates” (or “Republicans” or “former Bush supporters” when they make a seminar call into a talk radio program or write letters to the editor) as a way of cloaking their actual beliefs. Shocking that someone who lies about their politics might also lie about their religious beliefs as well.

Edward said...

Here's a comment that I posted on Ann Althouse's gay marraige and polygamy thread 2.

My comments are just as relevant for this thread.

I’ll pose this question to anyone who opposes same-sex marriage out of a belief that there’s an orchestrated effort in this country to discriminate against Christians and that same-sex marriage will only make bigotry against Christians worse.

I'd especially like Joan's answer to this question.

Here’s my question:

Would you feel safer living for a week as an openly gay (or lesbian) person with a partner in one of this country’s most conservative towns (such as in Utah/Texas/Alabama), or instead living for a week as a vocal, openly Christian married heterosexual in San Francisco, Provincetown, or some other locality with a high concentration of gay folk?

I’ll make the question even simpler: Would you feel physically safer walking around alone in almost any section of any city in America with a big sign that says “I’m Gay” or another sign that says “I’m a Christian”?

Please be completely honest in answering these questions. I think most people would answer them in the same way, and I think that fact reveals that one side in the same-sex marriage debate really faces far more significant hatred, discrimination, and fear of physical violence.

Ross said...

Of course, it's not surprising that a religion whose founding event was an act of sacrifice would make, in its own way, a virtue of martyrdom and victimology.

xauhi -- not long at all

hygate said...

Terry said "if these privileged people living in their lilly-white suburbs in the south and southwest"

From the Washington Post story:

"Among the conference's speakers were former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) as well as conservative Christian leaders Phyllis Schlafly, Rod Parsley, Gary Bauer, Janet Parshall and Alan Keyes."

Alan Keyes is black.

And

"Lloyd Marcus, a painter, said he entered three paintings in a Black History Month art show at the City Hall of Deltona last month."

Not that I think that they are being persecuted. I just don't get the knee-jerk "lilly-white suburbs" thing. My experience has been that whenever organized religion of any kind doesn't get its way, has its beliefs challenged, or is ridiculed it declares itself "persecuted".

I can't remember the name of the book, but I recall reading a humorous science fiction story; an adherent of one religion was complaining because his right to practice his religion was being suppressed by the authorities. He was not being allowed to kill (or at least persecute) followers of other religions; a mandatory duty under his faith.

CB said...

This is much ado about nothing, in my opinion. Or more precisely, it is controversy-mongering by the TV news media. Back when Fox News was "reporting" on the "war on Christmas," they didn't even try to pretend that it wasn't about selling Gibson's book--they showed it right on the screen and mentioned it by name!
For the record, I am an atheist and a Republican and I celebrate Christmas with a nativity scene and all (Playmobile makes a very cute one) and I could care less about seasonal displays (that's all they are) at government buildings.

Balfegor said...

Would you feel physically safer walking around alone in almost any section of any city in America with a big sign that says “I’m Gay” or another sign that says “I’m a Christian”?

I think the label "Christian" hides a lot -- so much that the two are not really comparable, and the comparison is hence more misleading than helpful. For one thing, "Christian" covers the vast majority of Americans, but the Christians who complain that their Christianity is being oppressed are a minority of the nominally Christian population.

While parading the fact that you are a "Christian" does state pretty clearly that you are not certain kinds of Christian -- i.e. you're rather more than just nominally Christian -- the generic term "Christian" even in that context still covers an extremely broad range. It doesn't restrict it down to that minority population of Christians who feel that their particular opinions are repeatedly denigrated in public discourse, that their sensibilities are open to mockery in a way that no one else's (e.g. Muslims -- some of whose views on certain issues are actually oriented in the same direction, just rather more extreme) are, that their communal spaces are invaded, time and again, by people who trample all over their traditions and values, and that their right to redress is continually hemmed in by courts populated by people who seem actively hostile to them. I have kinsmen whose Christian beliefs probably fall somewhere in this minority sect, and there really is no word that, to my knowledge, conveys to the outside world any accurate sense of the boundaries of their religious community (unlike, say "Southern Baptist," "Evangelical," "Catholic," etc. -- all of which are much, much broader). I have no accurate sense myself, only that it is Protestant in some fashion, and rather narrower than any of the sects I am familiar with. And of course, they consider themselves Christian above all.

"Gay" conveys already the gravamen of the conflict between "gayness" and the attitudes of the milieu in which your thought experiment places them. "Christian," however, does not.

If, on the other hand, there were a word which conveyed accurately that sense of precisely what flavour of "Christian" they are, and what traditions, principles, values, and metaphysics come with membership in that sect, then I think many of them would actively fear for their physical safety.

Wade_Garrett said...

Hygate - I agree with most of your points. And yes, Alan Keyes is black. The minute a black person outside of his own family votes for him, could somebody send me a telegram? I know his daughter isn't going to vote for him, because Keyes threw her out of his house once she came out as a lesbian. What a Christian thing to do. His own DAUGHTER is waging war against Christianity by choosing to become a lesbian, right? Right?

I'm serious about my college roommate though. He grew up in Ohio. But Tom DeLay's district in Sugarland, Texas is almost totally white, and Sam Brownback is from the almost totally white Kansas. I make the point only because its far easier to see yourself as a persecuted minority when you don't encounter any actual minorities in your daily life.

Ann Althouse said...

FXKLM: "I think many of you seriously misunderstand the motives of the separation of church and state advocates. For most of us, it has nothing to do with minority oppression. The Establishment Clause is a part of the Constitution, and so it should be enforced strictly without regard to policy considerations or public opinion. That's an extremely non-consequentialist view of law, which is the essence of conservative jurisprudence..."

The Establishment Clause may be in the Constitution, but it still needs to be interpreted. The cases are all over the place, and there is no way to articulate the law without thinking about the reasons for separating church and state and weighing the values that are involved. There are some very pro-religion reasons for embracing strong separation values, and there is no need to say we just enforce separation because it's the law. It is GOOD for religion.

Anthony said...

On the one hand I think it's kind of a big nothing; as others have pointed out, the "war on. . ." is fairly standard these days.

OTOH, it's usually used by those on the left, most recently the idiotic "The Republican War on Science" book, so one would think they'd want to distance themselves from such overblown rhetoric.

marlborough said...

"and Sam Brownback is from the almost totally white Kansas."

The Census Bureau says Kansas (2004) is 87.1% white, as opposed to 75.6% for the USA as a whole.

Not sure if this would be "almost totally"

dick said...

"But what bothers me is that these evangelicals can't fathom that anybody would be offended by their public display of religion. If a Jew was elected mayor of some town in the south, and wanted to spend the taxpayer's money on a huge Mennorah to display in the town square, people would lose their minds."

Terry, check out Lakewood, NJ. This happened there and the people did lose their minds. The reason was that the mayor and council refused to allow a Christmas tree at the lake in the center of town but did put up a big menorah. The menorah was burned down every time it was put up. They were willing to have the menorah as long as they could also have the Christmas tree but that was not an option the mayor allowed.

As to the rest of the petty comments, I think denying the basis of what started the country (removing crosses from city symbols when the actual name of the city was the new city of our lady of the angels is to me very petty as if removing crosses from cemeteries in San Diego that were put up to honor the dead) is truly idiotic. I was just reading the other day that the Muslims should not complain about the cartoons because that infringes on the rights of free speech yet here you are complaining because people are talking about a cultural war against another religion. Pot, kettle, black, etc.

CB said...

To add to professor Althouse's last comment: People assume that all Establishment Clause cases are brought by asshat atheists like Michael Newdow. But many of the cases we read in Conlaw were brought by religious believers whose own religious practices were interfered with by government-endorsed observances.

Matt said...

I have always viewed the second amendment as not only freedom of religion but freedom from religion. I think in some ways this is the [innocuous] aim of most 'secularists'. However sometimes it gets out of hand - like with the banning of Christmas trees or taking out 'one nation under God'.
Most people - including 'secularists' - agree that situations like this have gone a bit far. But Christian Conservatives have picked up on this salient cases and blown them out of proportion themselves.
Eventually the only voices we hear are from the extremists on both sides.

CB said...

Matt-
I disagree; I've always viewed it as being about the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Regarding a "freedom from religion": as much as I might agree that that is a good idea, the Constitution provides no such thing.

TheCommentsGuy said...

Ann Althouse said...

I thought the right-wing thing was to mock victimology!

12:18 PM, March 29, 2006


Cf.,

Joan: Said it's still OK to mock Christians and fat people. I'd add the following to her list:
Scientology, Convenience store owners (think the Simpson's Apu), Germans, Husbands and especially fathers, rednecks, Bush's intelligence (but not the local mayor's), corporate wealth and fatcats (but not trust fund wealth and its liberal fatcats) and SUV drivers.
(Trust fund liberal fatcats?)

and

I think you may want to include another category of people that it’s still OK to mock: white Southerners.

There is a very large subsection of conservative politics concerned with the grievences of white, Christian, men. (I'm the real victim of identity politics!)

knoxgirl said...

At the same time, liberals really despise Christians, at least my friends and the people I work with do! Maybe it's because I'm down here in a Bible Belt-y area liberals feel on the defensive..


"Liberals really despise Christians" only works as a generalization if you torture the meaning of Liberal beyond recognition. Most liberals are Christians. And they are real Christians, no matter how much you want to pretend that they aren't.

Food for thought for those who think that Christians are oppressed in this country. Eugene Volokh (no left winger) has written a law review article about religion/speech issues in child custody cases. Who do you think is more likely to get custody, The atheist or the Christian?

Jeff said...

I live in New York City and I hear disparaging remarks about Christianity fairly regularly.

Christianity is tolerated on the left only as long as the faithful fall within two categories: ethnic minority or self-hating apologist.

The sermonizing of Jackson and Sharpton is tolerable because their religion is seen as a part of their ethinc minority culture. It's the usual lefty Rousseauian racism that gives them a pass for their "primitive" faith.

The white forms of Christianity that are tolerated are of the thumb-sucking National Council of Churches variety. These are usually presented as middle-aged do-gooders who talk more about social justice than any religious belief or practice. The pass they are given is for reducing religion to a set of charitable impulses and forms of prayer as meditation.

The reason Bill Clinton's religiosity is given a pass is because he is understood to be from the south and that he culturally identifies with black Christianity. Black American Christianity, that is! The interesting thing is that socially conservative Christians from Nigeria, South Korea, and Latin America are beginning to make their presence felt in the United States and the world.

That's right Terry, there are Christians who aren't "lily-white"!

Tony said...

There isn't a war on Christianity in this country, and if these privileged people living in their lilly-white suburbs in the south and southwest think that they are being persecuted, they either do not know the meaning of the term or else they are simply desperate for attention.

No, Terry, there isn't a war on Christianity. Nothing as blatant as that.

There is, however, an war on what have been considered conservative Christian (including Catholic) values waged by a crack team with far too much control over the main means of communication than their relevance should command.

This is our adversaries in the Mainstream Media™. I am including Hollywood and the "entertainment" industry in that classification.

We see it when the papers trumpet every Catholic priest who abuses children and bishops who cover for them, but do not mention the 290,000 children who were abused by public school employees who were moved around to cover up.

We see it in Hollywood where a movie that glorifies sodomy wins an academy award while a movie which grossed 10 times as much didn't.

We keep being fed propagand pieces from Hollywood in the name of "art" that are total flops at the box office.

So yes, there is an attack on conservative Christian values, but the good news is Christians aren't buying it. And with the advent of blogging others of us have a voice.

Wasn't it William Randolph Hearst who said: "Don't start a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel"?

I'd like to add a corolary to that: "Don't start a fight with people who buy bandwidth by the terabyte".

Word ver - zhkxgjtn

TheCommentsGuy said...

I live in New York City and I hear disparaging remarks about Christianity fairly regularly.

I live in a city that the rest of the state calls Memphrica It's not meant as a compliment, either. I also regularly hear dispariging remarks about gay people.

So what.



You know the one thing in this country it is almost impossible to run for public office as in this country? Atheist.

Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Balfegor said...

There is a very large subsection of conservative politics concerned with the grievences of white, Christian, men. (I'm the real victim of identity politics!)

I think it's also an increasing subsection, especially among young White Christians, who have lived with the hypocrisies of victimology and race grievance-mongers all their lives, and for whom it simply forms part of the background of their weltanschauung. There are people who have declared them the Enemy, and the Oppressor. Who have declared them the Other. And so they see themselves as a group set apart, and have a well-developed group consciousness or class consciousness or whatever you want to call it.

On the other hand, a lot of it is merely tactical. The American public is generally seen as sympathetic to victims and underdogs -- to the squeaky wheels -- and as not sympathetic to the wheels that decline to squeak, even though their interests are being pushed aside in favour of other interests. So they to squeak. And whine.

And some of it may be a bit sub-tactical in a cargo-cultish way. They may look and see that all kinds of people get special benefits and preferential treatment and this and that, and decide they want some of that for themselves. How do those other people get it? By whining about how victimised they are. So it is clear -- if you whine about how victimised you are, people listen to you, and you can have those special benefits and enjoy that preferential treatment too.

CB said...

TheCommentsGuy,
There are also a handful of states that bar atheists from holding public office.

TheCommentsGuy said...

We see it in Hollywood where a movie that glorifies sodomy wins an academy award while a movie which grossed 10 times as much didn't.

I didn't see Brokeback Mountain, but I did see Narnia. While it was OK, it was pretty much a rip off of The Lord of the Rings. We're talking exact shots in some instances. And total grosses have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of a film. The Star Wars prequels were some of the highest grossing films of all time and they were awful. Narnia simply wasn't that good. And I'm pretty sure that all of the best picture nominess made money since none of them cost as much money to make as Narnia did.

Finally, Brokeback mountain didn't win Best Picture, Crash did. Narnia won an Academy Award for makeup.

Aspasia M. said...

As amply demonstrated on this forum, the "war on Christians" is more of the right's pathological need to be a victim, to rouse support by creating a specter of a demon.

I agree with Elizabeth here.

(And with comment guy's post on Atheism. Andrew Sullivan and Kevin Drum just has posting on the prejudice against Atheists. Including rather appalling things such as father's loosing parental rights because they didn't bring their kids to church.)

An overwhelming proportion of this country identifies as Christian.

This kind of talk almost always ignores certain liberal and moderate churches that support a strong separation of church and state - for example, The Church of Christ (Congregationalism).

Aspasia M. said...

Balfegor,

There are people who have declared them the Enemy, and the Oppressor. Who have declared them the Other. And so they see themselves as a group set apart, and have a well-developed group consciousness or class consciousness or whatever you want to call it.

I think they like identity politics and PO MO more then the most literary literati. It's really kind of amusing.

Thorley Winston said...

Terry, check out Lakewood, NJ. This happened there and the people did lose their minds. The reason was that the mayor and council refused to allow a Christmas tree at the lake in the center of town but did put up a big menorah. The menorah was burned down every time it was put up. They were willing to have the menorah as long as they could also have the Christmas tree but that was not an option the mayor allowed.

Do you have a cite for this story because I could not find anything on google to corroborate it. Thanks.

CB said...

geoduck2,
Agreed; Christianity has gone totally postmodern. I've noticed a lot of writings by Christians where they use scare quotes around words like "science" and "facts." Weird. Also, I've noticed people defending their right to their beliefs, rather than defending their beliefs.

Aspasia M. said...

Would you feel physically safer walking around alone in almost any section of any city in America with a big sign that says “I’m Gay” or another sign that says “I’m a Christian”?

The Christian sign, of course! Are you kidding me?

Of course, my husband had a scary run in with drunk University students because he was wearing a purple T-shirt & no socks. A T-shirt & no socks! Unbelievable.

Aspasia M. said...

Christianity is tolerated on the left only as long as the faithful fall within two categories: ethnic minority or self-hating apologist.

That's crazy talk.

I'm really sick of my religous identity being ignored by certain conservatives with a political agenda.

(I have a question. My family is liberal. And we're not a "ethnic minority." Why did we go to church every single Sunday? As a teenager I woulda really like to have slept in?)

(Oh - and as a high school student I was a member of an Episcopal youth group. But many of us were liberal and moderate! How odd! So what, did we all miss the memo or what?)

Check out the Congregational Church, Unitarians, Quakers, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians - all of these churches have lots and lots of liberal members.

And it's like you never heard about liberation theology in the Catholic church. Hasn't everyone met a radical feminist nun? Or a priest that is liberal on immigration, humanitarian and poverty issues?


I've got a new chant:

We are here,
We are liberal,
And we are Religous,
Get used to it.

Balfegor said...

Oddly enough, I'm pretty much totally unsympathetic to my fellow atheists' complaints about how atheists are so set upon. Possibly it is because I have a heart of purest lead without the slightest admixture of human pity (I am, after all, a conservative). Possibly it is because my instinctive thought is "suck it up and learn to cover if you don't want people to look at you sideways, you fool!" But really I don't know why. I just don't feel a sympathetic response.

Re: Geoduck2
I think they like identity politics and PO MO more then the most literary literati. It's really kind of amusing.

I think they're also much better at it too. The literati talk about Sassure, Foucault, poststructuralism, discourse, etc. but conservative and Christian activists have actually put those theories into working practice.

TheCommentsGuy said...

Oddly enough, I'm pretty much totally unsympathetic to my fellow atheists' complaints about how atheists are so set upon. Possibly it is because I have a heart of purest lead without the slightest admixture of human pity (I am, after all, a conservative). Possibly it is because my instinctive thought is "suck it up and learn to cover if you don't want people to look at you sideways, you fool!" But really I don't know why. I just don't feel a sympathetic response.

The point being not that Athiests are put upon, but that the idea of persecuted Christians in modern America is at odds with the reality of the centrality of the Christian religion in American life and the idea of Christianity being oppressed by one of the most despised minorities in the country is somewhat laughable.

knoxgirl said...

"The Star Wars prequels were some of the highest grossing films of all time and they were awful."

>gasp< Sacrilege!!!!

Thorley Winston said...

(And with comment guy's post on Atheism. Andrew Sullivan and Kevin Drum just has posting on the prejudice against Atheists. Including rather appalling things such as father's loosing parental rights because they didn't bring their kids to church.)

Needless to say both Sully and Drum grossly mischaracterized the facts and the law of case. Which is the danger that comes from regurgitating law review articles without checking the footnotes (the one in question is footnote 5). From the actual case of Evans v. Evans (cited as 2005 WL 3116506):

“With respect to factor b, the capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection and guidance and to continue the education and religion of the child, MCL 722.23(1)(b), plaintiff argues that because she was responsible for the children's academic progress and religious upbringing, she should be credited with this factor. The court found nothing on the record to indicate that defendant would discourage the children's religious upbringing, but found that defendant, "like most, not all, fathers do not engage in the same kind of act or intimate involvement in the child's education that a mother provides." The record indicates that the children did not attend church on weekends when they are with their father. However, defendant pays half of the private school tuition, provides tutors and school uniforms, and investigated schools for both children. He tried to enroll one child in a summer program, but was unable to because plaintiff would not cooperate. Although this is a close question because of defendant's lack of religious observation, the court's finding that the factor favored both parties equally was not against the great weight of the evidence.”

In other words, the trial court found that both the religious mother and the non-religious father were equally able to “give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed” (one of the 12 statutory criteria for determining the best interest of the child in Michigan) and the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s decision. Note that the criteria (and again this is 1 of 12 criteria - actually more like half of 1 given the first portion) is not whether a parent seeking custody gives a child a religious upbringing but whether they are able to help continue the religious upbringing of the child which is already occuring (the presumption being in favor of stability).

Balfegor said...

The point being not that Athiests are put upon, but that the idea of persecuted Christians in modern America is at odds with the reality of the centrality of the Christian religion in American life and the idea of Christianity being oppressed by one of the most despised minorities in the country is somewhat laughable.

I think the more telling thing in what I put there ought to be that I think telling atheists to cover is perfectly natural. This suggests that I think America properly features religious and godfearing communal expression, and that those of us who deviate shouldn't whine about that fact. And in fact I do believe this, even if my initial reaction doesn't mean much (I have the same "shut your yap" reaction to pretty much everyone, including the Christians) and doesn't lead there in a straight line. I think Christian practices and ritual have a greater claim to constituting part of the traditional ceremonial of the public square, in this country, simply because they're part of this country's heritage in a way that, say, giant menorahs in the public square are not. And so (after I get over my general irritation at hearing people whine) I'm sympathetic when Christians complain about that in a way I'm not when atheists whine about the same (or greater) vexations. I'm generally more sympathetic to other religions than to atheists, too, because the religious are performing devotions to their gods, while atheists are, for obvious reasons, not.

TheCommentsGuy said...

Needless to say both Sully and Drum grossly mischaracterized the facts and the law of case. Which is the danger that comes from regurgitating law review articles without checking the footnotes (the one in question is footnote 5). From the actual case of Evans v. Evans (cited as 2005 WL 3116506):

I think you are grossly mischaracterizing the article, as it hardly discusses just one case relating to this issue but adresses several. See, generally notes one through five.

From note eight:

For over seventy cases from all these jurisdictions (from 1970 to the present) in which a trial or appellate court cited in the prevailing parent’s favor the parents’ comparative religiosity or
willingness to raise child religiously, see infra Appendix, pp. 188–197; over twenty-five of the cases are from 2000 to the present, and over fifteen more are from the 1990s.

Dave said...

Geoduck: glad to see some liberal Christians showed up!

I was about to conclude that there are none.

Because that's what some seem to want us to believe: if you are liberal you can't be Christian (or religious).

This type of argument sounds a lot like one batted around Randian circles: "religious people are less intelligent than secular people."

Of course neither religious people nor secular people have a claim to intelligence, and neither liberals nor conservatives have an exclusive claim to religiosity.

Thorley Winston said...

Oddly enough, I'm pretty much totally unsympathetic to my fellow atheists' complaints about how atheists are so set upon. Possibly it is because I have a heart of purest lead without the slightest admixture of human pity (I am, after all, a conservative). Possibly it is because my instinctive thought is "suck it up and learn to cover if you don't want people to look at you sideways, you fool!" But really I don't know why. I just don't feel a sympathetic response.

I haven’t found covering to be necessary and honesty about my views to be far more satisfying. Usually when people realize that I’m not out to strip “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, don’t object to holiday decorations on public buildings (including religious ones) or invocations at ceremonial functions, politely respond to “God bless you” with a smile and “thank you” rather than a sneer or a lecture on why I don’t believe, and have never believed that some “emanation of a penumbra” of the Fourteenth Amendment has magically transformed the word “Congress” in the Establishment Clause into “your local school board and city council” that it’s enough to distinguish me from the Michael Newdowe’s of the world.

I would submit that if the religious majority in the country has a negative impression of atheists in general, it’s because of the atheistic Left who seem to have nothing better to do with their time than pick stupid fights over minutia.

Thorley Winston said...

I think you are grossly mischaracterizing the article, as it hardly discusses just one case relating to this issue but adresses several. See, generally notes one through five.

I’ve already shown how one case (the one emphasized by Sully and Drum) when the actual facts and reasoning were examined (to say nothing of the outcome) did not mesh with the characterization. If you think that there is another case (and I’m not about to cite check everyone one of Volokh’s footnotes for free) then I suggest you cite the case, the relevant facts, and legal reasoning behind the court’s decision and we’ll talk.

Joan said...

I'm not surprised to hear there are liberal Christians or members of other religions. Within the Catholic Church, you'll find many people who are very liberal on social issues other than abortion and same sex marriage. Of course there are a significant number of people who self-identify as Catholics even though they disagree with the Church's teachings on these two issues, and there are plenty of other denominations who also disagree with the RCC.

Regardless, Christians are charged with looking out for the poor and others less fortunate. One area where liberal and conservative Christians disagree is by what means we can provide the most help, but charity has always been a part of Christian teaching.

Thorley: you sound like a very sensible (and polite!) person. If everyone had your attitude, whether as an atheist or a believer, the world would be a much better place.

Dawna R said...

"There isn't a war on Christianity in this country, and if these privileged people living in their lilly-white suburbs in the south and southwest think that they are being persecuted, they either do not know the meaning of the term or else they are simply desperate for attention."

The phrase "privileged people living in their lilly white suburbs in the south and southwest" along with all the other comments calling evangelical Christians idiots, etc. really proves the whole point of "War on Christians." These comments show the writers' own classism and bias and prejudice and true hatred of Christians, as well as "White" people. I am an evangelical and I belong to a number of religous organizations and not all or even most of the people in those organizations are privileged and lilly white and from the South. My bible study organization has a broad mix of African Americans, Asians, Indians, Hispanics as well as white people. We are from all walks of life and income levels. It is a beautiful picture of Christ's Church from all points of view. The writers on this blog have a complete lack of understanding of the Evangelical Christian movement and they are responding from their own prejudice and hatred, which again makes the very point of the argument they are trying to refute. There is definitely a war in this country to tear down traditional values of all kinds and to replace them with some sort of so-called "progressive" values that are really not "progressive" at all, but highly destructive. A lot of people see this and are concerned about it and you don't have to be lilly white and privileged and from the South to see it. Nor are you an "idiot" for being concerned.

dick said...

As to the burning of the menorah in Lakewood, NJ, that would have been in 1984-6. It happened about the time I was contracted to work in Boston and my neighbors who had lived in Lakewood all their lives were up in arms because the city under its first Jewish mayor refused to allow a Christmas tree and then put up a menorah. I don't know if it has been put on the internet but it was a big story in the Ocean County newspapers at the time. There was a lot of bad feeling about it on both sides.

Troy said...

Davjavascript:void(0);
Show Original Poste,

presumptuous and arrogant? How exactly do you get that from insight that I screw up everyday, Christians don't have a monopoly on moral issues and I am unqualified to state with certainty the spiritual condiion of Bill Clinton (though I am entitled to an opinion last time I checked)?

I assume from your disaste (seemingly) for Christianity that you are not a Christ follower, Christian, Roman lion food or whatever you want to call it. Your view is simplistic or uninformed -- as is your ad hominem.

I can only presume from what you post since there is not a table and a couple of beers between us to gauge facial expression, etc.

Troy said...

And one more thing Dave... I have many friends who are liberals and Christians. You're caricature of the rightwing Christian who thinks no liberals can be Christians is just a stereotype -- some basis in truth, but too simplistic to do much more than label. I've heard Tony Campolo (Bill Clinton's "counselor") preach many times and he's as liberal (socially) as they come. Great man of God -- even if I disagree with him on some issues. We do agree on the most important issues. One can believe in absolutes and still use nuanced thinking on complex issues.

Balfegor said...

I would submit that if the religious majority in the country has a negative impression of atheists in general, it’s because of the atheistic Left who seem to have nothing better to do with their time than pick stupid fights over minutia.

With respect, I'd quibble there -- both with the link you see there and also with the equation between Newdow and Left-wing atheists in general.

Re: the link, I feel fairly certain that the widespread perception that self-consciously and dogmatically atheistic Communism destroyed half the world and wiped out a hundred million people or so in the last century has rather more to do with the negative perception the religious part of the public has towards us. Communism is just about the most prominent example of total secularism/atheism, and I cannot say atheism comes off looking particularly good there. Mistrust of self-declared atheists, particularly in public decisionmaking, does not strike me as entirely irrational. I think it is wrong. But not irrational.

PatCA said...

Geoduck,
The point is that white Christians are portrayed in the dominant entertainment/media/academic culture as big crazy bubbas, while ethnic Christians are portrayed with deep respect. Again, look at TV and movies. Lost is the only show I've seen lately that portrays Christians in a favorable light, yet those two Christians are black. You don't see too many pictures of Clinton at white churches do you?

Noting this phenomenon and questioning its relevance to politics does not mean your average liberal Christian doesn't exist. In fact, it's probably the norm, but most of those people have bigger concerns than founding the newest identity politics advocacy org and getting on cable news. Most Americans are the live and let live variety and wish everybody would be of the same frame of mind. But when you use the courts to get rid of a seal on a police car or to search out "offensive" Christmas trees in fire stations, it's going to cause a backlash--and this is it.

Aspasia M. said...

First of all, I'm really glad we're not Afghanistan or Pakistan. Separation of Church and state was a fantastic idea.


PatCA,

I see what you're saying, although I am much more disturbed by a religous minority such as a Jew being made fun of then a Christian in a Christian majority culture.

Why would any Christians feel oppressed? It really doesn't make any sense to me.


The media and Christians:

And I loved _Narnia_. I thought it was done very well, and was quite true to the book. A friend of mine really enjoyed _7th Heaven_, although it wasn't to my taste. And another friend needed her fix of _Touched by an Angel_ every week.

And, quite frankly, I can't think of a show about atheism, or, about a minority religion.

All the polls show that an overwhelming ammount of Americans believe in God and a vast majority identify as Christians.
-----------------
I do think that the media and the overarching "narrative" forgets about liberal and moderate Christians.

For example - on Crossfire, right after Pope John Paul had passed, the moderator was talking to Paul Begala, and casually called him a bad Catholic because of his politics!

I couldn't believe it. And he was quite insulted, especially as one of his sons was named after the Pope!

It's that kind of attitude - you're not a good Catholic, or a good Christian, or a proper religous person, because you don't vote a specific political party, that really, really annoys me.

downtownlad said...

Everyone's missing Ann's point. Of COURSE they only talk to themselves.

They only listen to FOX News. They only read conservative blogs. They refuse to read mainstream newspapers. They refuse to be friends with anyone is not a right-wing hack.

The concept of hearing an opposing viewpoint is appalling to them.

Don't believe me? Well, let's look at the facts.

1) They overwhelmingly believe in Home Schooling - further segregating themselves from society.

2)They don't want evolution taught in schools. Again - just one example of how an opposing viewpoint is verboten to them.

3) They refuse to associate with anyone who is gay, even if they are family members. For example, Alan Keyes disowning his own daughter. They are now trying to make sure that Walmart doesn't sell Brokeback Mountain. So not only will they not watch a movie with gay people in it, but they don't want ANYONE to watch the movie.

Of course they have a right to do all of this, but I think it just goes to show how shaky their beliefs are if they are afraid to even debate them.

And yes - someone who believes the Earth is only 6000 years old is on very shaky intellectual grounds.

And I know lots of people who think this way. It's not like I don't talk to them. I can't avoid them (believe me I've tried).

If someone wants to be an evangelical Christian and believes the Bible is the word of God, written in ENGLISH!!! well that's their choice. I will leave them alone. But when they force their silly beliefs on the rest of society, I have zero qualms pointing out holes in their arguments (like the fact that the Bible was NOT written in English).

Thorley Winston said...

For example - on Crossfire, right after Pope John Paul had passed, the moderator was talking to Paul Begala, and casually called him a bad Catholic because of his politics!

Oh baloney. That was Wolf Blitzer and he was teasing as evidenced by the chuckling from the panel.

Abraham said...

And, quite frankly, I can't think of a show about atheism

Then I put it to you that you have not watched Star Trek: The Next Generation very often. There were occasionally episodes so anti-religious that they violated the Prime Directive in their zeal to discourage religious belief. But then again I always thought the Prime Directive was stupid, anyways.

Aspasia M. said...

on Crossfire, right after Pope John Paul had passed, the moderator was talking to Paul Begala, and casually called him a bad Catholic because of his politics!

Oh baloney. That was Wolf Blitzer and he was teasing as evidenced by the chuckling from the panel.


I watched that show. Paul Begala was surprised and rather taken aback. Look at the transcript for his response.

And I would like to know why that's supposed to be funny when the Pope has just died. Why is it "funny" that Begala is a "bad" Catholic?

Synova said...

You almost lost me on the Fox News reference, downtownlad, and I almost didn't make it to the homeschooling reference.

One or two percent of the US population homeschools.

And one thing you can be sure of... they aren't trying to put creationism in your school science texts. It's the religious people with children *in* school that are doing that.

word verification: spazttsp

PatCA said...

One last word, geoduck. I too am more disturbed by cruel stereotypes of Jews, for instance, because of their history and how that resonates for people still alive today who went through it or who fear it happening again, maybe not here but somewhere. I don't fear a holocaust, but I think a valuable part of our culture and values is being suppressed by hyperbole and mockery. So, I agree the subject Christians are probably overreacting, but isn't that their right, to express even silly feelings? Maybe if they make enough noise, people will learn that it's time to respect all cultures, not just Anything But WASP cultures, and that saying Merry Christmas is not an insult, (as my former boyfriend, Israeli, viewed it).

downtownlad said...

One or two percent of the US population homeschools.

And what percent of Americans "really" think there is a war on Christians????

I surely hope it's not more than one or two percent.

Balfegor said...

Of course they have a right to do all of this, but I think it just goes to show how shaky their beliefs are if they are afraid to even debate them.

One sees this trope quite a bit. I think it surfaced with the Mohammed cartoons thing -- "theirs must be a fragile god, who can't take a bit of ribbing" and whatnot. Which is not quite the same, but strikes me as similar, in its puerile, jeering tone. *Ahem* (Sorry.)

But I don't see how it's gotten such traction. I suppose it follows if human reason and dialectic and disputation is, in your worldview, the only meaningful route to truth, or is (at minimum) a crucial social activity that all good people have an obligation to engage in.

But commonsensically, we all know there are hundreds of millions -- probably billions -- of people in the world for whom that is not true. Many people, the world over, believe that truth can also be obtained via revelation (e.g. through the Koran or the Bible) or even through a solitary divine revelation. And then, what is the point of disputation?

You can argue with a man whose premises are, in your understanding, completely wrong, but what is the point? You will come to the same conclusions only occasionally and probably accidentally, because your foundational assumptions are distinctly divergent. And if you think there are multiple paths to knowledge, and they reject all but one, how do you frame your argument? You start off explaining that there are multiple paths to attaining true knowledge, and they immediately object to your premises. "You can't rely on the Bible!" in the most simplistic case. The discussion can never get off the ground. You simply talk past each other.

There's a certain awesome naivety, I think, in the notion that mere talk and conversation can bridge a gap like this. That the appearance of engagement -- e.g. by going to the same rotting, ineffective public schools as everyone else, and reading the same windy old news rags as everyone else, and watching the same TV as everyone else -- will somehow give rise to real commensurability between the ways these different groups pursue knowledge.

Why should those who choose the retreat from the world bother to make a sham engagement with everyone else (an engagement those others will only consider meaningful, after all, if it ends their victory)? Why do people imagine that a refusal to fritter away time tossing words around is an indication of a lack of confidence? Is it supposed to be some kind of lame schoolyard taunt? "You're so chicken, you won't come out and dispute with me!"

Obviously, I enjoy tossing around words. I wouldn't be blathering on here like this if I didn't, and I certainly wouldn't have gone into law if I didn't. But it also seems plain to me that given the finitude of human intellect, and our near-total ignorance, when confronted with the mystery of human society, the notion that those who refuse to engage in the game of words with us are "afraid" to debate, or have "shaky" beliefs is nothing more than asinine self-congratulatory claptrap.

Johnny Nucleo said...

The phrase "War on Christians" is a metaphor. People sometimes use metaphors to express a point. Sometimes they use them clumsily. This is about societal badness, primarily sex badness like premarital sex, porn, same-sex marriage and abortion (And let's not kid ourselves. Traditional Jews, Christians and Muslims view premarital sex, porn, same-sex marriage, and abortion as positively evil - Can you be tolerant of that? (For the record, I love premarital sex (eleven women, approximately six hundred times) porn (lesbian) same sex marriage (lesbian) and I would love to have premarital sex (cut this part, make up a reasonable number) and if I ever knocked a chick up, and I didn't feel like doing the dad thing, I'd tell her to get an abortion, so I'm not trying to be judgemental here. Actually, I am) But it's also about little badnesses, that started to become everyday things about 1963 that even cool people like us know are bad. Profanity, just to pick something. It has become prosaic and weightless. This is bad. You know this is true. Remember the South Park episode about profanity?

Balfegor said...

Wow, that's a lot of nested parentheses.

hygate said...

Ninety-two comments so far; nothing like religion and politics to get a conversation going. I wonder if anyone will even read this comment.

Anyway, Terry said:

"And yes, Alan Keyes is black. The minute a black person outside of his own family votes for him, could somebody send me a telegram?
I know his daughter isn't going to vote for him, because Keyes threw her out of his house once she came out as a lesbian. What a Christian thing to do. His own DAUGHTER is waging war against Christianity by choosing to become a lesbian, right? Right?"

Unfortunately, visceral distaste for homosexuality to the point that outright discrimination is sanctioned is quite common in the African-American community and isn’t limited to somewhat kooky black conservatives.

And

"Tom DeLay's district in Sugarland, Texas is almost totally white, and Sam Brownback is from the almost totally white Kansas. I make the point only because its far easier to see yourself as a persecuted minority when you don't encounter any actual minorities in your daily life."

Everything you say is true. However, my point is that the impulse to cry persecution when your religion is unable to impose its values on others is universal and not limited to white conservatives. A recent example from here in Birmingham, AL is when Roy Moore, a republican, installed a Ten Commandments monument in the capital building. Plenty of African-Americans, many of them preachers, virtually all democrats, supported him in his action and started claming that Christianity was being persecuted when the ACLU successfully sued to have them removed.

Thorley Winston said...

Traditional Jews, Christians and Muslims view premarital sex, porn, same-sex marriage, and abortion as positively evil - Can you be tolerant of that?

Most religious people that I know distinguish between things which are "evil" and things which are "sins" even if they favor public policies that discourage both or oppose public policies that promote either.

Thorley Winston said...

Tom DeLay's district in Sugarland, Texas is almost totally white, and Sam Brownback is from the almost totally white Kansas.

Uh huh, and as another poster pointed the definition of "almost totally white" in reference to Sugarland, TX and Kansas means "somewhat more white than the general country but about as white as most other Congressional districts and States."

Thorley Winston said...

Everything you say is true. However, my point is that the impulse to cry persecution when your religion is unable to impose its values on others is universal and not limited to white conservatives. A recent example from here in Birmingham, AL is when Roy Moore, a republican, installed a Ten Commandments monument in the capital building. Plenty of African-Americans, many of them preachers, virtually all democrats, supported him in his action and started claming that Christianity was being persecuted when the ACLU successfully sued to have them removed.

What’s rather interesting about the Roy Moore incident that got so many Lefties’ undies in a bunch is that about the same time as Judge Moore built a monument to his ego, there was another Alabama politician who was trying to use the power of government to impose his faith on others in a far more coercive manner, fortunately he failed as well.

INMA30 said...

Dave said...
Geoduck: glad to see some liberal Christians showed up!

I was about to conclude that there are none.

Because that's what some seem to want us to believe: if you are liberal you can't be Christian (or religious).


I am glad to see you all here, too. It is interesting, because I have begun to think more and more that the opposite is true. I really don't believe it is possible to be conservative and be a Christian. The values just seem incompatible. I am convinced that the religious middle/left is far larger than the extreme right, just not as loud and obnoxious.

Joan said...

INMA30: I really don't believe it is possible to be conservative and be a Christian. The values just seem incompatible.

Yikes!

Johnny Nucleo said...

Thorley said: "Most religious people that I know distinguish between things which are "evil" and things which are "sins" even if they favor public policies that discourage both or oppose public policies that promote either."

I was being a bit jokey. I think I'm funny. Most people don't. I like to write crazy stuff in the comments of Althouse sometimes. Ann Althouse is forced to allow this. Why? I really can't say. (Blackmail.)

You do make an interesting point. "Evil" is a very strong word, but isn't sin by definition evil? To sin is to stray from God's will. To live in accordance with God's will is to do good. Therefore, anything one does - anything - that is against God's will, from eating a whole bag of Doritos in one sitting to murder, is evil. There are, of course, degrees of evil.

Scott A. Edwards said...
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