Mike the Mad Biologist has a nice post today titled “The Cult of ‘Christian’ victimhood,” in which he expresses a lot of the same ideas that have kicked around inside my own noggin. Chief among these is the warped definitions of terms related to victimhood and prejudice that Christians employ, sincere as can be despite the seemingly obvious objective lack of logic in their stances.
Like Mike, I marvel over complaints about the “marginalization” or even “persecution” of Christians from evangelical and fundamental Christians in America. Considering that around 80% of U.S. citizens identify themselves as Christian, and that the President and many of the major players in Congress and the SCOTUS are strongly Christian, and that the current administration is far more religion-friendly than any since Reagan and probably before, these persecuters and marginalizers must be skilled guerillas indeed. It seems clear, however, that in the eyes of people committed to believe that theirs is the One True Way, “marginalization” translates to “denial of absolute privilege,” and that, having been given several gleeful inches in recent years, Christians feel entitled to a few more parsecs.
it simply was beyond their conception that one wouldn’t worry excessively about getting into heaven or the afterlife
As an atheist, I’ve experienced this as well, manifested in quizzical comments such as “You’re just angry at God,” and “You’re afraid of God because it means you don’t rule your own world.” Some people genuinely can’t fathom that some happily have no use for deities, which explains the porous “atheism is a religion” canard. (Is “OFF” on my TV remote a channel? Is fasting just another form of nourishment? Etc.) This hard-wired ethos is unfortunate, because it’s a bona fide conversation-ender. People certainly need not embrace my world view, but if I can’t even them to imagine it, well, what’s the use in exchanging ideas at all? This is why most online discussions between atheists and Christians rapidly descend into rancor and nothing else.
Now, we can all just get along, but at some point, people are going to have to learn to tolerate other people’s beliefs.
Unfortunately, not tolerating non-Christian beliefs is a sine qua non of the more ardent brands of Christianity (or any religion). How can a practicing fundamentalist of any stripe respond in good conscience to talk of other gods, or no gods?