You wake up to see your social media news feed filled with posts about Duck Dynasty or videos of a mob of feminist women attempting to vandalize a Catholic church in South America. You see Christians quick crying “persecution!” A few “out-there” folks are even telling us it’s (surprise, yet again) a sign of the imminent apocalypse.
You scour the other side of the internet and see equitable posts and blogs showing priests throwing rocks at gay rights activists in Georgia and the firing of gays by conservative organizations, with just as many emotional shouts of “inequality!”
Something is wrong.
In this post-Christmas season, as we contemplate the peace that we say Jesus brought, we can see far too many grotesque examples of the antithesis to peace, violence and strife. Cue the cheesy music and I can give a nicely decorated speech about how we are all nice people who need to get along a little better and sing kumbaya.
Not gonna happen, instead here is the reality: many of us are self-loving bigots and “other”phobes. Yes, both Christians and the gays are guilty, so is every other group, club, minority, and majority.
The Bitter Facts
Most of us hate inequality and injustice. That should be a good thing, except we all use our own filters and preconceptions to decide what is inequality and injustice. And sometimes (and by that I mean most of the time) we only consider injustice/inequality/persecution as something that can be committed against our type of people, and our insider club. We don’t care if it happens to those who are on the other side.
Are there many hardcore atheists out there pointing out some kind of media bias or inequality against a Christian?
Is there a huge line of hardcore Baptists waiting to defend the equality of an atheist who wants to put an atheist monument on a court house?
Did it just get quiet here?
FACT 1: A huge (and partly naked) mob of pro-gay “feminist” protesters in Argentina surrounded a Catholic church that was being defended by a line of Catholic men. These women sneered, scorned, yelled, imitated lewd actions, and even spray painted some of the men. (1, 2, 3, 4)
RESPONSE 1: The liberal, gay, and feminist media passed over this story, as though this ugly thing didn’t even happen. The Christian newsmedia, blogosphere, and social media posted it everywhere, many in my social feed claiming persecution.
FACT 2: A huge (and mostly Othodox Christian) mob of “anti-gay” protesters in Georgia surrounded an anti-homophobia rally. These anti-protestors sneered, scorned, yelled, cursed, and some even threw rocks at the gay activists; 28 people were injured, 14 hospitalized. (5, 6, 7, 8)
RESPONSE 2: The liberal, pro-gay, and pro-feminist blogosphere made sure to hit this story, to show the horrible injustice. The Christian blogosphere and social media was quiet and largely ignored this, no one was claiming persecution.
FACT 3: Christian pastor Saeed Abedini is unjustly jailed in the Muslim country of Iran, for his Christian faith. (9)
RESPONSE 3: Christians care, petition the government, pray, and most importantly send a bazillion chain messages. The other side is largely quiet and unconcerned
FACT 4: Hundreds of homosexuals have been executed by Iran, and Iran’s leaders openly advocate torture or hanging for homosexuality. (10)
RESPONSE 4: Pro-gay advocates care, petition the government, and donate money to stop this. The Christian side is largely quiet and unconcerned.
The Bitter Truth
Some of this talk about fairness, justice, equality, freedom of speech, freedom from persecution is often just fluff. It’s something we say when “our” side is getting hammered. The bitter truth is we don’t say these types of things when we see our opponents driven to their knees.
In fact, in my personal experience, I have heard plenty of fundamentalist Christians utter pretty ugly things about other people who embrace other worldviews. I have personally had Christian people tell me they want the gays to die or be hanged. I once organized a rally to reject the precursor to gay marriage, and spent most of my time calming down some of my fellow protesters from saying horrid, violent, and angry things, (the rest of the time calming down a few gay counterprotesters). I listened to a sermon on Youtube where the Bible-thumping pastor stated all the gays should be put on an island where they can die off. In fact, about ten years ago, I used to make that island joke myself, and I’m pretty sure it involved nuclear weapons.
I’m also certain I’d hear the same types of things against Christians from the radicals on the other side as well, had I many friends there. If not through personal experience, then one can find that social media has plenty of examples of hatred against conservative evangelicals and right leaning Christians as well.
Where the US pledge of allegiance declares “equality and justice for all” some opponents of conservative Christianity want to replace that with “all who are on my side.” Where Jesus says “pray for your enemies” some Christians want to replace “for my friends only” (and the cleverest amongst us simply pray imprecatory prayers for their enemies).
The Bitter Pill We Need To Swallow
So here we are, gridlocked in a war where people only care about their own side. We use words like justice, fairness, equality, but we don’t care if the other side gets those things. We only care about our justice, fairness, and equality.
The only true way to stand for all these grand values, is to ensure that even your opponents are privy to them. The only true fairness is when you let your opponents have what is fairly theirs, even if it hurts you. The only true equality is when you admit your opponents are equally valuable. The only true justice is when justice is not unfairly slanted in your favor.
So what is the answer to the rampant unfairness and injustice? The wise words of Jesus which teach all of us kindness, love, and some form of equality for all, even for those you don’t like. If God sends sun & rain (in a farming civilization this is equitable to life itself) on both the just and unjust, perhaps we should grieve for all suffering, not only against those we like.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
Are not even the [corrupt] tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”