Saliha has written another great post that resonates with me as a former Christian fundamentalist.
One of the ways those who benefit from religious oppression are able to nurture and sustain oppressive social structures (like male supremacy/patriarchy) is by convincing the oppressed that their suffering is both natural and ultimately good for them. Some go so far as to say that extreme sacrifice is the only means to self purification and divine favor. This fosters a kind of arrogance on the part of the oppressed. They can look to those in their group who are living happier, more fulfilling lives as living in delusion. Those who “patiently persevere” can see themselves as closer to ultimate Truth and Reality. They suffer as Jesus (peace be upon him) suffered, or as the wives of Muhammad (pbuhahf) suffered, as Hussain (pbuh) suffered. They are the chosen, the holy. They are appeased by a promise that after death, when ultimate justice prevails, their suffering will be rectified. If their deceptive piety has really corrupted their hearts, they take pleasure in the idea that those who are happy now will one day roast in hell while they sip holy margaritas in a garden of bliss. You’ll be a martyr!
As fundamentalist Christians, we expected to suffer a variety of maltreatments for our faith: scorn and pity for our clothes and our straight-edge lifestyle, open mockery from family members for going to church multiple times a week, abandonment from our friends, and ultimately, persecution by the government. If we felt lonely, we urged each other to stay strong and reminded each other that God was always with us. If we felt out of place, we reminded ourselves that we were “not of this world.” If we hated conflict, we smiled sweetly and imagined Jesus on the cross, enduring the spear in his side. We were assured that it would only ever get worse, but that as it got worse, we would be more and more confident in our salvation. If we weren’t suffering, Satan must have won us over already.
Libby Anne: You Will Be Hated – The Catch-22