My epistle to the Christians

I wrote this earlier and abandoned it because I couldn’t think of a way to conclude it.  It’s a difficult line to walk to when you are attempting to talk Christianity and be true to the moral tenets of the faith against those who also claim Christianity but make no effort to and claim that you don’t, either.  I probably stepped off that line in attempting a conclusion (not shown) and never quite got myself back on track about six weeks ago, and here we are.  I’ll just present it for what it is now, in hopes that people will at least possibly get where I’m coming from, and maybe those to whom it is addressed will think about it.

Dear fellow Christians,

I have seen the opening salvos in your defense of your religious freedom in this impending and so-called “War on Religious Freedom”.

The logic is pretty clear: the Republicans, with whom you are inevitably aligned, are conducting a “War on Women” right now, one that involves the State – which they supposedly wish, as you presumably do, since I’ve heard it multiple times, to keep small, contained, and out of people’s business – intervening to stop women from having full access to their health care and full control over their bodies and their reproductive choices.  This is because they don’t like women having those choices – and the “they” in this case is almost entirely male.  And this is far from the only “war” they are conducting.

And you cannot do what you wish to do, which is fulfill your vision of making this a Christian nation, using your vision of Christianity which you received from the pulpit.  Therefore, there’s an analogy there: since you are attacking women – and gays and lesbians, and folks of other faiths, and folks of other colors – and removing their freedoms, your similar lack of freedom must be because those “liberals” are doing the same to you.

You long for a day when people knew their place; when blacks didn’t get “uppity” and want “special privileges”, even when one of their own is President; where you had a school prayer from the King James Version, like in the old days; where you didn’t have to explain to your son or your daughter why those two men were kissing on TV.  Things are eroding around you and you feel under attack.  If only those people would be happy with what they’ve got, and not have to take away our things!

The more thoughtful among you may even further philosophize that this is necessary, because otherwise society dissolves into chaos, with a million competing interests vying for “control”.  This is what “multiculturalism” means to you…and why it is necessary to have a single, dominant culture, with us in control, since we were founded as a white, Anglo-European, Christian nation.

There are two very, very big problems with all of this, and the first is stated simply: you seem to be confusing “freedom” with “privilege”.

Yeah, you were free to do all of these things in the past.  But there were a lot of Jewish kids sitting in that classroom that had to hear you preach, even when it was directly against their faith.  There were women who weren’t going to get jobs without being groped and whistled at; there were blacks who weren’t going to make as much as you were for the same jobs.  They wanted to have the same stuff – or at least the ability to get the same stuff – that you got.  In a telling move, many of you accused them of wanting “special privileges” for doing that.  That’s right: you had the privileges.  And in many cases, you continue to have them.

For most, this is like trying to explain water to a goldfish – in other words, you have no other frame of reference.  For those philosophical ones I mentioned above, for whom it’s good to have conquerors and subjects, I can only point to the founding documents of the United States, stating that all are created equal and have certain unalienable rights – considering that we were trying to get out from under the thumb of a king who ruled by divine right – and suggest that despite our nation’s somewhat dodgy history, you may be in the wrong country.

But there’s a second problem that is just as large as the one above, and that is that, to a great extent, the one above doesn’t matter to you.

It’s a pretty well-known truism of modern politics that the facts are a secondary consideration to one’s ideology, if they enter into it  at all.  And yes, both sides do it, although it has been measured to be more of a factor with the right than the left.

It’s why, in defense of your views, you have to resort to some serious fable-telling to back yourself up.  Obama is a Muslim, or an Arab.  He’s taking our guns and giving them to black people.  You can’t say prayers at the Lincoln Memorial any more; the police will come and arrest you.  Terrorists are indoctrinating my children.  And on, and on.  I have literally heard all of these by people who were dead serious in their belief of them.  These are lies.  And I’m not talking about misstatements or mistakes or something like that…people didn’t mishear them and get the wrong idea.  I mean they are deliberate lies which are demonstrably untrue and told by frightened or cynically manipulative people; you might as well say that the sun will rise in the West tomorrow.

Here’s where the “fellow Christian” part comes in.  More to a point, I’m a Christian and am proud of that fact.  I’m a white male, married to the same lovely woman for 20 years, whose neighbors to one side are black, and to the other side are Latino.  My children went to and are still going to a public school; I don’t have exact numbers, but the high school is about 50% white, with a thriving Gay-Straight Alliance, and their elementary school contained 40 different nationalities.  They display their Christianity on their jewelry and keychains – yes, even in school.  No one is arresting them; no one is indoctrinating them otherwise.  They enjoy their churches and Bible study groups and classes; my older daughter has continued with them at the university.

I’m sad to say this, but I view you as fearful and insecure.  I’m out here in the midst of the “heathen world” and doing fine; how is it that you aren’t?  That you can’t – unless you are in complete control of others?

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