Oppressed Oppressors, part 4
I didn’t begin, by the way. I’ve stopped attempting to communicate with him at all ever since the conversation a year or two ago while he was ranting about the War on Christmas where I tried to point out that not everyone who objects to manager scenes and the ten commandments in courthouses are foreigners who refuse to “learn our ways.”
So when I saw a news story today about a Pew poll showing that White Christians now make up less than half of the U.S. population, I realized this sort of irrationality is going to get a lot worse. Studies have already shown that people who are members of a privileged class start feeling as if something is being monopolized by another group when that group achieves 30% of the screen time or talk time, et cetera7. So now that White Christians actually do make up a minority, well, it’s not going to be pretty.
Of course many of them have felt that they were in the minority for a long time. I remember a few years back when the percentage of people who identified as non-Catholic Christian went below 50% that folks in the religious rightwing went bananas, claiming that Christians were now in the minority. This reveals a tiny piece of one of the major issues, here. Which is that a lot of the sorts of people who will non-ironicly talk about “taking back our country” don’t think that everyone (a lot of everyone) who claims to be a Christian actually is.
Another revelatory bit is an amusing string of posts that have been going around Tumblr. The original post talks about how sometimes the sheer cruelty of some homophobes makes them wish you could set them up with a blindfold, a stick, and a hornet’s nest, but tell them it’s actually a piñata. Someone else responded by commenting how casually anti-Christian most liberals are, and how they (the Christian commenter) are once again being demonized for their beliefs. The original poster then points out the the post said absolutely nothing about Christians, “but you chose to put yourself in there.” It isn’t liberals who define Christianity as anti-gay, it’s all the anti-gay people who call themselves Christians and claim that Christianity is anti-gay who have defined Christianity as anti-gay. The part that doesn’t often get acknowledged even on the liberal side, is that those folks refuse to accept anyone who doesn’t share their anti-gay views as part of their faith.
And I’m not just saying this because of a few Tumblr posts. During the lead-up to the 2012 Presidential Election, as Mitt Romney seemed poised to sew up the nomination, he met with the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, (and the current head of Billy Graham Ministries). After Romney promised to fight marriage equality tooth and nail, a large section the the Graham Ministries website which had been there up until that meeting that went into great detail “proving” that the Mormon Church is a cult, rather than a legitimate part of Christianity, simply vanished. Literally deleted without comment. And suddenly Franklin Graham and all of the rest of the rightwing evangelicals were endorsing Romney.
A similar thing happened with Graham Ministries and Liberty University and the Moral Majority and such a couple of decades before when they all stopped referring to the Catholic Church as a cult (which they often described as ‘the whore of Babylon”) and the pope as the antichrist. It was 1994, after two years of the Clinton presidency, and it was becoming clear that popular sentiment was become less explicitly anti-gay. There was even a big conference that resulted in a bunch of evangelical leaders and Catholic leaders signing a document that supposedly outlined common doctrine. Except the document was mostly focused on a list of political goals, not least of which was overturning gay rights laws where they existed, and opposing any expansion of anti-discrimination laws by adding sexual orientation or gender identity.
So, while they like to claim that the word of god is inerrant and unchanging, they certainly are more than willing to forget all sorts of doctrinal differences in the name of preventing queers from having equal rights, or women from having control over their own bodies, or mega rich people having to pay taxes.
Because clearly when Jesus said to welcome foreigners, feed the hungry, visit the sick, clothe the naked, and so on, what he really meant was that god only helps those who help themselves… and happen to be white, and claim to be Christian, and never do anything foolish such as being born in poverty or in another country.
1. What’s the joke? “If I wanted to listen to my rightwing relatives most racist opinions I’d call them more often”?
2. First, there is the explicit notion that it’s perfectly okay to treat minorities poorly…3
3. It would be petty of me to also ask why a guy who hasn’t set foot inside a church in 30-some years except to attend someone’s funeral or wedding describes himself as Christian4.
4. And while church attendance doesn’t necessarily equate to belief, let’s just say no one in their right mind would describe his lifestyle as being even vaguely Biblical.
5. Note that it is not that Christians no longer make up a majority (They’re still about 70% of the population), nor even that Whites are no longer a majority. It’s that particular combination of being both White and a Christian. I think the more interesting statistic is that White Christians still make up about 70% of all Republican-leaning voters. While Democratic-leaning almost exactly one-third White Christian, a bit less than one-third non-White Christian, and then a bit more than one-third people of all races who either identify with another religion or none at all6.
6. Note that this still means that 64% of Democrats are Christian. So the Democratic Party is hardly the bastion of godlessness that some would have you believe.
7. Those same studies show that folks in the dominant group think that other groups are getting “equal time” when their representation or recognition amounts to 15%.