War on Christianity?

14Jul10

Lately, for some reason, one particular issue keeps surfacing in my life: the supposed war between the atheist and Christian populations.  First it was this article from CBN (which resulted in a debate with a friend of mine), and now it’s this piece from Chrissy Satterfield.

I can’t help but notice that our very existence is considered an attack, and that when we have the gall to request that we be no longer treated like second-class citizens, we are accused of waging an outright war.  No one seems to be able to see that there is a difference between asking for equal consideration and trying to eliminate Christianity.  Restoring the Pledge of Allegiance to its original version does not require anyone to renounce their god and religion, it merely prevents people from being forced to profess belief they do not hold.  Asking for holiday decorations to be inclusive does not force Christian decorations out of the mix, it merely takes into account the diverse beliefs of the American population.  Enacting legislation that is not based on the principles of a certain religious sect does not force the members of that sect to act in opposition to their beliefs, it merely prevents others from being forced to act in opposition to their own.  We are broadening horizons, not fighting for the dominance of one group over another.

The Chrissy Satterfield piece has had me seething all day.  I’ve spoken before about the disconnect that appears to be inherent in Christianity, but there is certainly evidence for how it works socially here – Christian billboards are acceptable, while atheist billboards are purposeful acts of spite which infringe on the rights of the Christian population.  The author openly gloats over the fact that the purpose of the billboards – which was to be a Fourth of July demonstration depicting the original version of the Pledge of Allegiance – was made ineffectual by the vandalism.

There is also a certain self-importance in her reaction.  She claims:

This billboard campaign was a calculated insult to Christians, and the atheists thought it was appropriate.  That shows you how spiteful this organization is.  They took an American celebration and made it about them.

Right.  We can clearly not be atheist and American at the same time – the two are mutually exclusive.  Only a Christian expression of patriotism is appropriate, never mind that what was depicted was the original Pledge.  As in, the most historically accurate means to honor the Pledge of Allegiance on Independence Day.  It’s funny how it never crossed her mind that, just maybe, this was a way for the atheist population to show unity with one another, and really had nothing to do with attacking Christians.  Yet another example of how simply not shutting up and accepting the status quo is seen as an assault, rather than a peaceful act of togetherness.

Oh, people know you exist all right.  Any time you have a problem, the Left is ready to hear you out.  But anytime a Christian has something to say it gets swept under the liberal rug and dismissed like our rights aren’t important.

Can I just address how utterly ridiculous this is?  Because, honestly.  We’ll even ignore the fact that the Right doesn’t hear out the atheist agenda, and expecting the Left to hear out the Christian agenda despite that fact is all kinds of privileged.

The majority of liberal politicians (of all politicians) profess Christianity as their faith, and the Christian agenda gets so much attention.  In fact, it’s pretty damn hard to get anything that the author would deem the “atheist agenda” (whatever that may be) any positive attention.  The Christian population has been in charge of things for quite some time, and to think that they are oppressed and downtrodden is just absurd.  It is true that the human rights side is, thankfully, getting a little more consideration these days than in the past, but it is still not the dominant force.

Yet another passage to prove that she really, truly Does Not Get It:

Atheists are always saying how offended they are by, well…everything.  How is this billboard not offensive to me?  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Where’s my PC?  And who’s protecting my right not to be offended?

I can tell you right now, I’m generally not “offended” by the treatment of all who are not Christian as lesser citizens.  I am pissed the fuck off.  I have spent my entire adult life respectfully biting my tongue and trying to reason with the Christian population, and I am dead tired of trying to be reasonable about the fact that they don’t seem to think I have a right to exist in their world.

I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the man or woman responsible for this vandalism.  I appreciate the action you took.  Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone.  It took a lot of guts to do what you did – and the fact that you haven’t stepped forward to take credit makes you a hero.  It shows everyone that you are more devoted to the message than you are to the spotlight.  I encourage you to keep your cover.  Don’t give the secular world a reason to call your name; instead, let them call for our God.

Oh, where do I start?

How about this: vandalizing a billboard that expresses a view that opposes your own, and not owning up to it, is not an act of bravery.  I’d say that not coming forward is the intelligent move, but it isn’t heroic, and it isn’t a sign of devotion to “the message.”

Then there’s that part thanking them for reminding her that she’s not alone.  Exactly what reminder does she need?  The majority of the population professes Christianity.  Most of the messages we see and people we encounter as we go about our everyday lives are Christian.  Perhaps she doesn’t notice because she assumes that it’s the default, The Way Things Rightly Are, whereas people who are outside that belief system realize it is The Way It Should Not Be.

I also need to extend a thank-you to some people in Sacramento and Detroit.  In February, 10 atheist billboards were defaced in the Golden State and a slew of atheist bus ads were vandalized in Detroit.  My dose of honesty this week: I am not happy that vandalism seems to be the only way to get an atheist’s attention.  I’m happy that I can count on other Christians to stand up for themselves and for Christians everywhere.  It gives me hope.

Really, Chrissy?  Really?  Even if the Christian population did not have our attention, vandalism is not the only way to get, and it is certainly not the best or most effective method.  It is a good way to piss us off, though.

The fact that we are speaking out is a pretty big indicator that the Christians have our attention.  That we are not bowing under is not a sign of ignorance – we have heard the other side, and we have rejected it.  By responding to this incident with claims that you are the one being oppressed, you have revealed your true goal, which is to silence and dominate.  And congratulations, you are quite good at pursuing that particular objective.  But every time you attempt to silence rather than converse and coexist, I become less willing to hold my tongue and be polite when discussing my right to live in this world without being forced to pay lip service to a faith I have not held since I was 14.  I truly hope that mutual respect comes before my patience runs out, but some part of me can’t help but wonder…if a request for common courtesy is seen as an attack, how would you handle it if we treated you as you treat us?

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5 Responses to “War on Christianity?”

  1. I hope you will not allow the skewed views of Satterfield to represent all Christians. I certainly do not agree with what she is saying, and I find no heroics or righteousness in the vandalism of any of those billboards. Everyone is entitled to their right to speak out freely on their views. I wish, as a person and a Christian, that the vandals would be identified and prosecuted under the law.

    I would have no issue with changing the Pledge of Allegiance back to its original wording at all, in fact I agree it is the wording that would let all citizens, regardless of their personal beliefs, to show allegiance to our country. I would only side with leaving the “under God” wording in if that was original – and clearly it is not.

    I believe Christ expects of me to follow Him in peace with the rest of our world. It means that I need only worry about my standing with God, not to demand of others to respect God, nor to judge anyone under Christian doctrines – only on our human societal doctrines (if that makes sense?).

    Militant Christianity is extremism, and I can’t abide extremism, whether it is secular or religious extremism.

    • I want to thank you for this comment. I really, really needed it this week, and people like you are the reason I wish to work peacefully toward a mutual respect. I know it’s possible to reach that, but the reminder that this gave was much needed.

      • You’re welcome. You wrote an excellent post and I couldn’t walk away from it without letting you know I believed in what you pointed out.

        Again, thanks for the great posting.

    • 4 Edman

      As another atheist, I appreciate that there are a good number of decent people who also happen to be Christians.

      A large part of the problem here is that they remain silent, or hem and haw when asked about acts such as this vandalism. Why is it that the more middle-ground Christians aren’t publicly and vocally condemning these vandals? American Christianity has a long history of having a persecution complex, and I don’t think that will be going away soon.

      So if you disagree with their acts as you say, I can only plead to you to express this among your fellow believers. It can make a world of difference, because let’s be honest: they aren’t listening to us nonbelievers.

      • Edman, I wish I could have an answer for why more middle ground Christians don’t speak up. I try in the limited circles where discussion comes up for me, and maybe I should find more examples to speak out on as a Christian in my blogging.

        All I can equate silent Christians to is the “silent majority” in politics who just go along to get along in American. It’s no excuse, and barely rises to the level of an explanation.

        Sadly there is so much bickering within Christianity itself that many moderate voices are lost, if they are heard at all.


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