There has been a recent uptick in the number of voices who are aghast that others practice different religions. Predominantly, these voices have been those of the conservative, evangelical Christian community. Among the leaders of this howling horde is the typical suspects of Pat Robertson, Joel Osteen, and Billy Graham. There are others who are not quite a recognizable by name but their modus operendi are easy to spot.
There are the ones who will shout down their opponents and throw a lot of effort in to character assassination of the people they feel are wrong. You can spot this variety in action on most any social media platform. They are quick to turn any disagreement into a ‘moral’ one where in they are always correct and their opposition is always wrong. Their arguments are primarily emotional ones with a long list of attacks on the opponent phrased in such a way that the outside observer is encouraged to view the opponent as inferior through the use of charged language and out right falsehoods, in some cases.
There are the ones who will try to bury their opposition in all the ‘horror’ of their ways. The best example of this group are the anti-abortion protesters who parade an endless stream of graphic (and not necessarily legitimate) images of fetuses that have been aborted. (And if what I recall is correct, many of those images that are legitimate are not obtained with the consent of the person who had the abortion.) This is the group that went out and created false stories about how Planned Parenthood was reportedly selling ‘baby parts,’ complete with a set of images to flesh it out. They operate on the basis of offending their viewers and appealing to their outrage at what they had thrust into their face.
There are the ones who use the argument that their opposition are going against ‘tradition.’ These folks are particularly pernicious, in my opinion. They argue that society is in decline and that people who are different are responsible for that decline. Often, they uphold a romanticized vision of the past and talk about how they need to return to that time of ‘good, wholesome values and propriety.’ You find a lot of this folk running around in politics, with a convenient ability to downplay the actual ugliness of past history as present revisionist interpretation. (The shades of irony on that particular argument are blindingly bright. You may need a welder’s mask to begin to get a look at things past that brilliance. I personally prefer to take all the precautions used for solar observation via a telescope.)
You also find the population of people who are so ‘concerned’ about their opposition. You can find them in every possible stripe of outrage, honestly. It ranges from people who are concerned about their opposition’s ‘immortal soul’ to people who are concerned about the safety and welfare of their opponent. (That last bit of concern is of the same level as blinding irony as what I mentioned earlier. Regard it with care. Ocular hazards can level permanent effects.) These ‘concerned’ people have the erroneous idea that their methodology is correct and flawless. They also assume that they are ‘good’ because of the supposed ‘benign’ aspect of their arguments. They’re almost as insidious as those I just mentioned.
If you are quiet for a moment, proverbially speaking, you can hear the echos of their screaming everywhere. It is particularly potent right now because it is an election year. Some would say that the best course of action is to ignore these people. At one point, I had thought this was a valid method of dealing with these attitudes. Then I realized that it really is not. My silence when my right to practice my faith is challenged does not help me or my children. It does not help anyone who is a member of a faith that is scorned.
Now, I have family that are evangelical Christians and they don’t behave in this fashion. They are part of the body of Christians that actually take the teachings of Jesus to heart. They don’t go out and attack someone because they don’t believe the same things they do. Is there an effort to convert others that goes on? In some cases, it is an active effort but it is done with an approach of ‘let me persuade you’ rather than ‘you must do this.’ And when the prospective convert declines, they let the matter be. There are those who attempt a passive effort at conversion, by which they attempt to use their life as an example of the benefits of being of their faith. This, in my opinion, is an example of the way Christians should be approaching such things. Be respectful of others and when your offer is declined, let it go. If you want to convince me that your way of life is better, demonstrate how your faith/philosophy has worked for the betterment of your life and that of the world. (By the way, anyone who wants to have a discussion of this sort, publicly, feel free to contact me. I would be happy to host it here on the blog.)
This population of respectful and considerate believers are frequently shouted over by the others. It is a tragic thing. I feel badly for them. Considering that there is a population of people within the faith systems that I identify with who are equally reprehensible, I understand the embarrassment and frustration that comes with having those voices clamoring so loudly. We can not ignore the people who are attempting to curtail the practice of plural religions within this world, where ever they might be found. Just as people within the faiths that have these bigots actively working to quash other faiths need to stand up and oppose them, so too should we who are maligned and scorned.
There is a movement to erase the plurality of the United States’s culture. They seek to create a homogenized culture where everyone fits a specific mold. This homogenized vision weakens the USA and harms countless people. Religion is but one area where this effort is made. There are people who seek to create a system where people are stratified by ethnicity, genetic traits (including skin color, physical characteristics like gender presentation, and if one is disabled), and socio-economic status. They seek to create something of a caste system, though they would not call it that because it tips their hand and shows their motives all too clearly. The people who are actively working to present the USA as a place that is of a single faith, ethnicity, and related concepts are attempting to move the nation away from what it was founded as.
They are more than enemies of people who practice minority faiths. They are enemies of the republic. I don’t talk about this much, but seeing this uptick of virulent and violent pedagogy disturbs me on a fundamental level. Don’t let the people who say that all pagans are ‘dangerous devil worshipers’ control the discussion. Don’t let the people who say that women’s rights should be rolled back to what they were in the 1950s, if not earlier, be the ones who dictate the terms of the fight.
At one point recently, I saw someone say that ‘fighting fair’ was part of being honorable. That is a mistaken concept. I am honorable. But I don’t fight ‘fair,’ I fight to win. Our opposition doesn’t care about what is ‘fair’ here. If they did, they wouldn’t do things like threaten the lives of our families, firebomb places of medical care, or encourage violence against the defenseless. They wouldn’t work so damn hard to systematically make all forms of religious expression that fall outside of their chosen mode illegal. They wouldn’t be doing this. They wouldn’t be defaming us or our beliefs.
Oppose them. By what ever means you may, because a lot more is riding on resistance than your comfort and expression. The future of a free republic is in the balance here. Turn their methods on them and, if we are constant and true to our cause, we will win free of their tyranny and terror tactics.