I reposted this almost 2 years ago when it was written. I’m doing so again because of the recent political events in this country concerning marriage equality and how it has opened those cracks in the woodwork once again. Here ya go:
elf (elf) wrote,
There’s no shortage of blog posts and comments by Christians, saying, "please don’t consider me to be one of those nasty icky bigoted unthinking fundamentalists."
- "Christianity is much broader, deeper and richer than fundamentalism."
- "I wish people wouldn’t lump all Christians in the same group"
- "There is a vile strain of Christianity, indeed, but there are caring, thoughtful moderate and progressive Christians out there – millions of them." 
- "I want it to be clear to you and your family that we do not all hate. We are not all bigots."
I could quote more. (The roundup for this post turned up half a dozen more easily; I’m sure I could find more than that with a bit of work. Just plug "not all christians are" or "all christians aren’t" into Google.)
As if I couldn’t tell them apart; as if I am incapable of noticing the difference between a kind and thoughtful person and one who spouts bigotry and oppression and quotes a book to support it. As if I hadn’t noticed that the majority of Christians, like the majority of people in every other religion, are basically decent folks who want good pay and healthy families and a bit of fun & leisure on the side. As if I can’t tell a mundane from a scholar from a wingnut. (Believe me, I know from wingnuts.)
And on top of the insult to my basic perception abilities, there’s the implication that I’m supposed to care which sub-sect they’re allied with. That I’m supposed to keep track of the myriad varieties of Jesusites and sort out which official doctrines are bugfuck nutso (um, we can agree there are some of those, right?) and which ones are just somewhat pushy and which ones are openly tolerant of real diversity—and among those, which allow how much individual differences within the sect identification.
As if it were my responsibility, as a non-Christian, to sort out which of the followers of J the C are rational and caring human beings, like their scripture tells them to be, and which ones are using the same scripture to justify hatred and slaughter.
They want, they tell me (or my friends, or my allies, or people who share some of my beliefs) to be accepted for who they are. They want to be judged on their own merits, not lumped in with a bunch of bigots who get media attention ‘cos they’re rich and white and male. They want me to understand that they’re "not like that."
You know what I want?
I want my kids to not be expected to attend school on the days of our religious services. I want strangers not to offer me the blessings of a deity I do not worship. I want members of my religion to be able to meet in public, anywhere in the US, without risking slashed tires, broken windows, and physical attacks. I want the freedom to answer questions about my religion without fear of reprisal, even if those questions come from children. I want judges to stop ruling that non-Christian influences are dangerous for children, and giving custody to the Christian parent. I want my president to stop reminding me that he doesn’t represent my religion’s needs or wants, that he is oblivious to my religion’s truths.
And that’s just the basic, don’t-want-to-live-in-fear wants. I don’t dare let myself have wants that Christians can take for granted… the ability to walk into a random drugstore and find greeting cards with my religious symbols on them, libraries to stock books about my religion and treat them with respect, prayers of my faith offered by public officials in times of disaster, history classes that acknowledge the history and importance of my religion. The ability to move somewhere where all my neighbors will be of my religion, or at least, will not hate it. The ability to hang holiday decorations in my windows, or on my cubicle walls, without facing a barrage of annoying questions, much less vandalism.
The pie-in-the-sky dream? The ability to have a public temple in a city of less than 100,000 people, where the government forms are handed out in seven languages–or in a rural area more than 10 miles from the nearest library. The ability for a dozen neighbors to pool their funds, buy a tiny plot of land, and build a religious services building they’re pretty sure won’t get burned down within a year.
I don’t expect any of those to happen. Not in my lifetime, and maybe not ever. My religion’s weird, and there’s never been a whole lot of public acceptance of weird.
But I’d like to not have to hide my religious symbols under my shirt on the bus. And I’d like my kids to be free to attend our religious services when they’re supposed to happen, not on the nearest JHVH-inspired holy day.
So, umm. The "nice" Christians don’t like getting backlash about fundies. They believe they are persecuted by more restrictive branches of Christianity. Maybe they are. But they’re not lacking privilege because of it—not all persecutions break along privilege lines. They’re not being oppressed even when they’re being hated.
And it is not. my. job. To figure out what kind of Christians are which, to figure out who belongs to what sect and where their individual beliefs lie.
I’m big on individualism. REALLY big on it. Enough to override decades of experience that tells me that anyone wearing a cross is probably a danger to me and my family, or at the very least, a danger to my comfort.
I don’t *mind* the apologetics, exactly. They’re a phase; Christians who are waking up to their privilege usually go through a stage of "OMG, I’m not like those people! I promise!" And what wakes them up, and what exactly they realize, is of interest to their friends. I am *endlessly* fascinated by all sorts of religious discussion, including the eternal "creation vs evolution" debate that I really can’t understand as a dichotomy (I have no problems with both); I just don’t have the energy to keep running on that hamster wheel.
But being interesting & entertaining doesn’t mean something is new and innovative. There’s a good deal of Special Snowflakism in most "All Christians Are Not Like That" posts. And more in most comments on news blogs.
Sometimes I’m amused by it. Sometimes I’m interested in a particular perspective. Sometimes, I seethe at the reminder that they have the safety to speak about their religious beliefs and practices, in public, without fear of reprisal. (Oh, I can speak up. I live in one of those aforementioned cities of over 100k people. Nobody cares what my religion is; I can dye my hair blue and wear black robes in public and nobody blinks. What I can’t do, is safely move to a city ~100-300 miles away where the rent would be 1/3 of what we’re paying, and be just as public.)
I am never happy about the reminder of how *trapped* I am.
This entry was originally posted at http://pj.dreamwidth.org/342921.html. Please comment here or there there using your LJ ID or OpenID.