Friday, June 28, 2013

Judging others for thinking they are judging others too

I mostly enjoy the Everyday Feminism page on the Facebook, but like anything other issues-oriented site, they sometimes preach to the choir and don't think through their assumptions very well. Or, I'm just way off base here. Either way, I wanted to post a slightly atypical HTBB post about being a liberal Democrat who also identifies as Christian.* A post on Everyday Feminism yesterday caught my attention. Read "30 Examples of Christian Privilege" here.

I totally agree that these types of "privileges" alienate non-Christians. The idea of a "War on Christianity" in the U.S. is completely ridiculous. However, I think part of the premise of the general argument here is wrong. I genuinely do not believe it is the Christian faith itself that is the problem. Stay with me here...the Christian faith is based on the teaching of Jesus. (It doesn't matter if you personally believe Jesus existed in order to follow my logic here. And the Bible is a document. Which may or may not depict real events. OK, it definitely depicts some made-up events, but we're getting off topic here...) Jesus' actions and words, as represented in the Bible, overwhelming show a doctrine of love and acceptance, especially for marginalized people. (For those who are unfamiliar with Christianity, a lot of the weird and self-righteous "Christian" rules you may have heard of are probably from the Old Testament portion of the Bible, and the worst of them are essentially reversed or forgotten in the New Testament.)

So based on my ramblings above, it's not the faith itself that creates a hostile environment for people who have other belief systems. It is bigots and extremists in the Christian religion that are the problem. Bigots and extremists are always the problem, no matter if we're talking about racism, sexism, religious always comes down to the bigots and extremists.

I do acknowledge that there seems to be a connection between Christians and narrow-minded thinking, but at least part of that perception is due to how The Media operate. Plenty of Christians are peacefully going about their daily lives being accepting people of all faiths, but the loudmouth bigots in the group get all the attention. This is how the media generally sells stories to us: they focus on the fringe. Think about how Muslims are sometimes depicted and how right-wing conservatives think all Muslims are violent Islamists. It's ridiculous and so far from the truth! (Obviously the Muslim scenario is more harmful than the Christian scenario here. There are degrees of influence and differing consequences from traditional media and social media on our perceptions.)

The introduction to this list on Everyday Feminism states that "If you identify as Christian, there’s a good chance you’ve never thought about these things." Well, I actually think about these things a lot and so do other Christians. I don't want to marginalize anyone, and through my volunteer work, political work and my everyday behavior, I try to prevent, stop and reverse any such marginalization. Period. I don't know where they get their stats for "a good chance"; I have no idea what that percentage is. Even if most Christians are intolerant (in which case I would argue that by some measures they aren't even really Christian, since they're missing the whole point of Jesus' teachings), why do you have to judge the rest of us? Doesn't that just exacerbate the problem?

Please do not think I'm saying Christians are bullied. Christians definitely enjoy more advantages in this country than any other belief group. I'm saying we're all getting into a vicious cycle of judging here. You're judging me by thinking I'm judging you. I think it would be better if we all focus on the bigots and extremists, not the religion itself.

Also, I just want to explicitly give a shout-out to the atheists: I think that the majority of my friends are atheists. I will never try to convert them or any other atheist. I appreciate the fact that atheists are operating under a very solid system of logic. My only real request is that you don't associate me (or the vast majority of Christians) with the Westboro Baptist Church people. Just thinking about that makes my stomach turn.

If I wish you a "Merry Christmas" in December, please feel free to respond with a "Happy Hannukah," "Happy Holidays," or simply "Have a great day!" My use of this greeting doesn't mean I think you need to celebrate my religion's just means I sometimes say "Merry Christmas" in December as a way to express my best wishes for you. Really!

*When I say I identify as Christian, I mean I was raised Christian and my extended family are all Christians. I believe in a higher power and many of the teachings of Christianity resonate with me. I also believe that you can be a great Christian and still trust modern science, accept LGBTQ people as 100% equal to heterosexuals, and allow a woman a right to choose. Even if I wake up as an atheist tomorrow, I'm still going to celebrate Christmas and Easter, and from time to time I will accidentally say "Oh my God!" and "Holy Moses!" It's not a glamorous culture, but it is a culture that I belong to.