The American evangelical persecution complex (continued — and continued and continued …)

The American evangelical persecution complex (continued — and continued and continued …) November 14, 2011

So the Liar Tony Perkins came out recently with the claim that President Barack Obama has “created an atmosphere that is hostile toward Christianity” and that Obama, personally, “has a disdain for Christianity.”

Then I saw this headline on Christianity Today’s blog: “Tony Perkins: Obama Is Hostile, Disdainful of Christianity” and thought, “wow, that was so over-the-top that even Christianity Today is calling him out on it.”

Except they’re not. CT seems to be citing Perkins as a credible and honest authority, repeating his lies as though they were true.

CT doesn’t add any supporting evidence (there is none) or talk to anyone who doesn’t share Perkins’ point of view. They just take it as a given that Obama “has a disdain for Christianity” because … um, because … because, apparently, they just assume that everyone knows that we American Christians are a beleaguered and persecuted minority facing relentless hostility from the powers that be.

The persistence and popularity of this American Christian persecution complex is one of the strangest and least attractive aspects of American Christianity. I can’t imagine it’s viewed favorably by those Christians from other times and places whose lives and faith weren’t as easy and so widely affirmed and celebrated by their cultures — which is to say by the vast majority of other Christians who have ever lived.*

I have previously discussed my own theory attempting to explain this weird persecution complex — the idea, generally, being that by pretending we’re a persecuted minority rather than the hegemonic majority we actually constitute, then we’re also able to pretend that we’re: 1) Noticeably different in our dreams, desires and daily lives from those otherwise indistinguishable-from-us neighbors who share our culture but not the particulars of our faith; and 2) Noticeably and intolerably more virtuous and righteous than those otherwise indistinguishable-from-us neighbors who share our culture but not the particulars of our faith.

My theory, in other words, is that we’ve chosen the illusion of self-righteousness over the actual hard work of becoming the kind of love-driven, love-shaped people Jesus called us to be.

Well, that and the fact that telling people they’re being persecuted, and that their only hope is to respond to this fundraising letter with a donation of ___$100, ___$50, ___$25 (check one) also proves to be a lucrative racket.

So whether it’s an imaginary anti-Christian “Christmas Tree Tax” or the religious right’s shrieking hissy-fit over the memorial to a man they despise or the delusional lie that Obama ended Bush’s policy of “Easter proclamations” the pattern continues and continues and continues unabated, with Christians in a constant state of offended indignation over nonexistent sleights they’re actively and knowingly making up as they go along.

Not honest. Not right. Not healthy. Not cool.

– – – – – – – – – – –

* Update: Clumsily worded there. My point is that, if one got to pick when and where one was going to be born as a Christian, has there ever been a cushier, more luxurious, less-calloused and less-persecuted time or place than right now, here in America? I know religious right types might long for the good old days of Puritan New England’s legally enforced hegemony, but today they get to enjoy both cultural hegemony and indoor plumbing and broadband. So it seems churlish for Christians here and now to be whining about persecution.

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