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[culture|religion] The modern persecution by the Christians - Lakeshore
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Jay Lake
Date: 2012-09-25 05:19
Subject: [culture|religion] The modern persecution by the Christians
Security: Public
Tags:christianism, culture, politics, religion
One of the more ridiculous things I hear from some of my Christian friends on a reasonably consistent basis is that they are being persecuted for their religion. I realize that persecution is an important Christian meme from the earliest days of the Church, and telling themselves this is comforting and self-valorizing. But let's talk about persecution for a little while.

As a Christian, are you prevented from marrying the person you love by the rules of your country's dominant religion? My gay and lesbian friends are. That's persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a Christian, are your efforts to seek political and legal equality stymied by rhetoric from houses of worship on every street corner, and millions of dollars in a political funds from tax-exempt entries? My gay and lesbian friends are. That's persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a woman seeking basic reproductive health services, are your choices limited and controlled and banned by government interference between you and your doctor, those bans and controls coming from your country's dominant religion? My female friends are. That's persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a religious minority seeking to practice your own religion in peace, are you constantly subject to prayers, religious observances and public holidays as established by the rules of your country's dominant religion? My Jewish and Islamic and Sikh friends are. That's persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a religious minority seeking to establish a house of worship consistent with real estate and zoning practices in a major American city, are you prevented from doing so by a massive public outcry led by practitioners of your country's dominant religion? My Islamic and Sikh friends have repeatedly endured this. That's persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a religious minority voting in state and national elections, are your choices almost always between two members of your country's dominant religion? My Jewish and Islamic and Sikh friends find that to be so. That's persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a religious minority being sworn into a rarely-elected office, or to testify in court, are you required and expected to swear on the sacred text of your country's dominant religion? If you try to use your own sacred text, are you subject to mockery and derision? My Jewish and Islamic and Sikh friends find that to be so. That's persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As an atheist who polls as the leased trusted group in America, how would you feel about despised and distrusted? That's persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a student trying to learn to be competitive in the high tech future, are you subjected to counterfactual faith-based teachings in math and science class thanks to the meddling of your country's dominant religion with its persistent, pernicious confusion of faith-based belief with objective reality? Students across America are every day. That's persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

The next time you complain about a minor erosion in the absolute social dominance of Christianity as being a form of persecution, take a moment to think, really think, what it still means to be a non-Christian in America. Trading away a small bit of your power for the self-respect and social safety of others isn't persecution, it's loving compromise.

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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2012-09-25 12:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hrm. As a religious minority voting in state and national elections, are your choices almost always between two members of your country's dominant religion? is not persecution.

It's a crap lack of options, and it may LEAD to persecution, but it's not persecution in and of itself.


Being told that ONLY those folk may run for office would be persecution. But not if there are members of other faiths in office/running for office, legally and without harassment beyond what qualifies as normal political harassment.

Edited at 2012-09-25 12:27 pm (UTC)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-09-25 13:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Your point is very much taken. On the other hand, look at some of what is called 'persecution' by Christianists, which amounts to at most minor erosion of overwhelming privilege.
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Dan/Дмитрий: The Sign at the End of the Universe
User: icedrake
Date: 2012-09-25 13:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:The Sign at the End of the Universe
I'm not sure I'd classify being viewed as the least-trusted group as persecution per se, either. It's prejudice, certainly. Probably the underlying cause of persecution, but I don't think that in itself can be called persecution. Then again, I am two hours of sleep short this morning, so I may be unintentionally splitting hairs.
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A wandering fellow on the long road
User: tsarina
Date: 2012-09-25 13:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Atheists are not legally allowed to hold public office in Texas, and several other states. I think that counts.
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2012-09-25 13:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
...you're *joking*.

No, no, I'm sure you aren't. There goes my position. I'll be in the corner, huddling with my safety blanket now.
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2012-09-25 14:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It does look like the clause doesn't stand up to a legal challenge, at least.
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Renfield
User: cuddlycthulhu
Date: 2012-09-25 14:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Atheists are denied business with advertisers and the like when they have attempted to put up signs regarding their views and their opinions of religion. Christians, not so much.
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2012-09-25 14:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Point. I'm not sure I have a clearer definition in my head of what constitutes persecution than "I know it when I see it."
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Dan/Дмитрий: The Sign at the End of the Universe
User: icedrake
Date: 2012-09-25 15:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:The Sign at the End of the Universe
On further reflection, I have to take back my agreement. Your point is valid but not really relevant to the issue of trust. Those advertising businesses aren't turning down atheists because question the atheists' willingness to pay.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-09-25 15:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No, they're turning it down due to discriminatory pressure from Christians.
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2012-09-25 15:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I didn't say it wasn't persecution; just that it wasn't applicable to the point about trust :)
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Renfield
User: cuddlycthulhu
Date: 2012-09-25 16:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Untrue there have been multiple ad campaigns Ended by advertisers after they received complaints from religious groups *after* the ads were purchased, because advertisers aren't of the habit of giving free advertising space before payment. Also recently there was a story about how attendees of a free thought atheism conference were actually denied business from local establishments of where the convention was happening, most notably a dude who own an ice cream shop had several posters in his windows saying Atheists weren't welcome. Can you imagine the firestorm of bullshit that would happen if someone said that about Christianity?
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2012-09-25 18:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I still don't see how anything you've mentioned is rooted in mistrust of atheists. Dislike, sure. Disagreement, certainly. But mistrust?
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Renfield
User: cuddlycthulhu
Date: 2012-09-26 08:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
First of all, do you honestly think that people who are bigoted or biased against another person are going to trust them? I would say such feelings rooted, fundamentally, in a place of mistrust.

Secondly, the religious view atheists about as trustworthy as rapists.

Third, you're moving the goal-posts now.
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2012-09-26 15:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Your third point makes me suspect we have a basic disagreement on what my position is.

The very first line in my first comment on the subject was "I'm not sure I'd classify being viewed as the least-trusted group as persecution per se, either."

I've questioned the claim "mistrust = persecution."
I'm still questioning it. Please explain where I've moved the goalposts or retract your accusation.

Your link in the second point provides support of mistrust, once again. It says nothing at all about persecution, or any sort of causal relationship between the two. You're not providing support for your position, you're merely reiterating it.

As for your first point, you're arguing that people who are bigoted against a group are not going to trust them. OK, ignoring for a moment the question of "trust them to do what" -- that provides support for "persecution, THUS mistrust" not "mistrust, THUS persecution."
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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2012-09-25 13:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Using their own definition validates their definition, though. Not sure that's a good idea...
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-09-25 14:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
At the same time, perhaps there's value to speaking to them in their own terms? Turn *any* of these around, and a fair number of Christians would consider it persecution.

Or maybe my chemo brain isn't clear on this yet. ;)
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Dichroic
User: dichroic
Date: 2012-09-25 12:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Maybe the appropriate thing for me to say here is "May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year." (Tonight is Kol Nidre, Erev Yom Kippur.)
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cypherindigo
User: cypherindigo
Date: 2012-09-25 12:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
May I repost?

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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-09-25 13:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Permission to repost is always granted on my blog. ;)
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Peter Hollo
User: frogworth
Date: 2012-09-25 13:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I just tried to find the "like" button for this. Oops, wrong social media.
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matt_doyle
User: matt_doyle
Date: 2012-09-25 13:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Also curious about reposting.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-09-25 13:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Permission to repost is always granted on my blog. ;)
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Peter Hollo
User: frogworth
Date: 2012-09-25 13:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I remembering this persecution fetish of evangelical Christians in particular being pointed out to me a while ago.

I was watching a (controversial) video of American (I think) Jews being dicks in Jerusalem last night and it occurred to me that the dominant belligerent, self-righteous, self-ghettoising culture in Israel and the Zionist Jewish community (I'm a Jew myself but... not one of them) suffers from exactly the same persecution fetish. All of Israel's bullying and colonialism and, increasingly, grotesque racism is justified by (of course) the Holocaust. Still, now.

(ETA: Of course anyone questioning the disgusting misuse of the Shoah to justify Israel's thuggery will be interpreted by those same people as anti-Semitism. So it goes.)

Edited at 2012-09-25 01:28 pm (UTC)
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Dan/Дмитрий: The Sign at the End of the Universe
User: icedrake
Date: 2012-09-25 14:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:The Sign at the End of the Universe
Disclosure: I'm an Israeli citizen by way of immigration. I was also a supporter of the "territories for peace" movement after Rabin's assassination.

I don't think most Israelis use the Holocaust to justify their behaviour. In fact, other than around Remembrance Day, I don't recall much in the way of mention of the Holocaust in the Israeli media. The conflicts du jour, on the other hand...

Israel is a deeply, intensely, racist place. It's amazing how you can be a "Jew" or "Kike" back in your country of origin, only to come to Israel and become (in my case) a "stinking Russian." Or a "Parsi" (Persian), Yemeni, or "nigger" (the first Somali Jews arrived in the country while I was there; they certainly got their share of insults and then some). You're never just a Jew, and it's always impressed me how a supposedly-united group of people can manage to find that many internal divisions.

That goes ten-fold for the Jew-Arab divide. I still remember my high school's vice-principal/Hebrew teacher pointing at a map of Israel on the classroom wall -- this was during a brief tangent into a discussion of dreams -- and saying "my dream is to see all this with no Arabs, but who deals in dreams nowadays?"

That's an exact quote (well, in translation). It was also in one of the suburbs of Haifa, which has long had a history of peaceful Arab-Jew coexistence and has a pretty high proportion of Israeli Arabs. There weren't any Arabs in the class; If there were, *everyone* would have known. I would like to think the comment wouldn't have gotten made if there were any, but really? It probably still would have.

Top all this off with regular conflicts that -- heavily one-sided though they are -- impact everyone on the Jewish side, too, and you get a whole lot of anger and a whole lot of support for the abuses. When as a child you've had to, night after night, get roughly grabbed out of sound sleep, stuffed into a gas mask, and half-awake and scared sit in a sealed room, anxiously watching the TV, it's hard not to feel resentful. After a while, the resentment colours everything you learn about the other side and influences how you perceive all new information.

The religious arguments are there too of course, and they're used to further inflame the situation. If anything, I'd say they're the ones being used to justify the behaviour within the country's Jewish populace; the Holocaust is more a very powerful political tool aimed at the outside, not an internal motivator.
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Peter Hollo
User: frogworth
Date: 2012-09-25 14:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks for the fascinating response.
I am an outsider twice: an atheist Jew who's politically and culturally on the periphery of the Sydney Jewish community, and a non-Israeli, so who am I to comment really?

But perceived and historical anti-Semitism is used by Israel to justify its own racism. And it's depressing.
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2012-09-25 14:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The take-home lesson for me was that a group of humans intent on finding lines of separation will succeed in its quest, no matter how insignificant the divisions may seem to the outside. It was quite astonishing to go from a rather wide ethnic spectrum (Russia) to a much narrower one, and find more, rather than fewer, groups self-identifying as distinct.
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a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2012-09-26 01:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The Christian message of persecution ("Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)" is part of the reason that so many Christians seek to feel persecuted. After all, if they're persecuted because of their religion then they will automatically gain entry into heaven. This comes out of an existing Jewish meme at the time of Christ, though. The enslavement by the Egyptians which forms a central element of the Torah is really the beginning of this meme and it wends its way through the Jewish books and was reinforced by the time of Christ by the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah in the 6th century BC and then the occupation and romanisation of the area by Rome from 63 BCE. So, Christianity came out of a religious and social tradition of seeing themselves as the persecuted underdog and their treatment by the Roman Empire through the first few centuries CE simply reinforced that. Their political dominance of Europe and then much of the world through the second millenium produced a cognitive dissonance that I think is one of the causes of groups like the Westboro Baptists.
The treatment of Jews by the dominant Christian authorities in Europe through the middle ages and then up to and including the holocaust reinforced the Jewish belief in themselves as the perpetual victims such that even once Isreal was founded and they became a significant power in the region (through European and US guilt about the Holocaust as much as anything else, I think) isn't enough to counterbalance millenia of seeing themselves as the persecuted minority.
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andelku: Apu
User: andelku
Date: 2012-09-25 13:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Apu
Everyone forgets about us Hindus. Even though conservative Christians think we're Satanic. :(
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-09-25 14:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My apologies. I mentioned Sikhs because the visible (and deeply stupid) confusion many conservative Christians have between Muslims and Sikhs due to the traditional grab.
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mevennen
User: mevennen
Date: 2012-09-25 14:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>Even though conservative Christians think we're Satanic.

Pagans ditto. The first people to cavil about pentagrams worn in the workplace are usually...well, guess who.

OTOH I live in a town that is both pagan and Christian (and a few other groups) and it's notable for how tolerant everyone is.
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Thom Marrion
User: xnbach
Date: 2012-09-25 19:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Everybody forgets us Buddhists too, but then again lots of Christians don't think we are a real religion (2575 years or so of history notwithstanding).

I think a lot of the Christian Myth of Persecution (apart from the fact that they need to be persecuted in order for the world to end and Jesus to come back) is tied up in with how America sees itself. America wants to believe that we are still the pucky underdogs holding our own against the world-spanning expanist empire to win our freedom, when we became the world-spanning expanist empire a long time ago.

Maybe it's just a weird majority self-defense mechanism, since white people in America sometimes complain about being persecuted when their privaledge is chipped away just the tinniest bit.

People are strange creatures sometimes

Edited at 2012-09-26 01:06 am (UTC)
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LiveJournal: pingback_bot
User: livejournal
Date: 2012-09-25 14:04 (UTC)
Subject: Jay Lake on Xtians and Pernicious Persecution -- O! My!
Keyword:pingback_bot
User lsanderson referenced to your post from Jay Lake on Xtians and Pernicious Persecution -- O! My! saying: [...] The modern persecution by the Christians [...]
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Renfield
User: cuddlycthulhu
Date: 2012-09-25 14:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
But, but, JAY! THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS!

Naw, nailed this one.
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Clint Harris
User: wendigomountain
Date: 2012-09-25 14:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm a very spiritual person. I know people say this all the time, but the reason I say this is because I do believe in a higher power, but the more I learn about religion, the more I think it's horseshit. Still, for me, there are things I feel in my bones that suggest more than what I can perceive or measure or find in a book.

That being said, have you ever seen the movie, Agora? It's about Hypatia of Alexandria and the destruction of the Great Library. More examples of persecution by the Christians.
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mcjulie
User: mcjulie
Date: 2012-09-25 20:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Growing up in the evangelical church, I saw this kind of thinking and thought it was ridiculous long before I left the church entirely. My personal experience leads me to theorize that it comes from a few places. One, is the exact same kind of ridiculous pouting that you see from people who are expected to behave themselves in almost any fashion. Tell guys not to be creepy -- you're oppressing them. Tell bigots not to say bigoted things -- you're oppressing them. Tell Christians to keep in mind that not everyone in the world is a Christian -- you're oppressing them. Sometimes this is even an overly defensive reaction to being embarrassed -- for example, if they already assumed someone was a Christian when they weren't. You can live and learn, or you can get all bristly and claim you're being oppressed.

Also, they love the melodrama of it. So they get really into the times and places where it genuinely was dangerous or illegal to be a Christian, and maybe -- over-identify? They like to imagine themselves as that one guy who won't bow to Pharoah. (This one is popular with teenagers, who are really into seeing themselves as heroic without actually having to do anything)

(Okay, LiveJournal thought my link made me spam. To see what I'm talking about, google "keith green no compromise")

Evangelicals have this notion of being a little island of pristine righteousness in a crude, sexual, violent, drug-addled, secular pop culture. Never mind their own role in sustaining that pop culture, or the fact that their main response is to create an entirely separate realm of pop culture for themselves. Just things like the sex-n-language content on HBO make them feel "persecuted" -- because their sensibilities are being disturbed. If you make them feel bad for any reason (even guilt and embarrassment), you must be persecuting them.

There's another thing too -- if you can convince yourself that you're being persecuted, it provides a psychological cover that automatically makes everything you do okay -- because you're the real victim.

Anyway, there's probably a lot more to it than that, but those are my thoughts from the trenches.
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Little and foxy and sexy... what more do you want?
User: little_foxy
Date: 2012-09-26 03:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am curious as to what they give as examples of persecution based on their religion? Are they able to supply examples?

And once again thank you for a very well written article.
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Chris McKitterick: Flying Spaghetti Monster
User: mckitterick
Date: 2012-09-27 05:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Flying Spaghetti Monster
Not only is this full of TRUTH and AWESOME, but it's also a fantastic example of parallel structure. It would be great subversive fun to show this in my writing classes when we're discussing this sort of construction....

The worst thing about all this? Everyone has to pretend they respect Christianity, and therefore we become conspirators in legitimizing and elevating this particular brand of fantasy and furthering their power to persecute others. It's not only ridiculous, it's disgusting.
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dionysus1999
User: dionysus1999
Date: 2012-10-03 19:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You summarize in a way only a great author can. I only wish this could penetrate the thick skulls of those who really need to read it.

Edited at 2012-10-03 07:47 pm (UTC)
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User: dreamsinanime
Date: 2012-10-13 06:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, I wish I could somehow get every Christian to read this...
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