I tweeted recently that at some point as a nation, we need to sit down and have a serious chat about toxic Christianity and its relationship to the patriarchy, white supremacy, and toxic masculinity. Screenshot and link below:
Now to the meaty bits (or seitan if you don’t eat meat): what exactly do I mean by toxic Christianity?
Like with the phrase “toxic masculinity“, I’m not saying that all of Christianity is toxic. I’m referring to a very specific flavor of Christianity which IS toxic, and has perpetuated a number of problematic to outright bigoted and hateful behaviors, particularly here in the USA. This especially includes Dominionism, which everyone needs to read up on in order to understand some of the political and religious power struggles here in the United States. It’s also led to a number of people to get involved in lawmaking and try (and sometimes succeed) in passing a number of laws based on them. These laws are actively working towards making the rule of the land be mostly white cis men while taking away the rights of literally anyone else.
We can’t pretend that Christianity is the only place where we’ve had this toxicity, as certainly a number of ancient cultures were patriarchal and in them women had few to no rights. But right now, those cultures are not in a position of power, and neither are we pagans/polytheists/witches/magicians/etc for the most part. While some of us do indeed come from a Christian background–particularly since witches and magicians can pretty much be of any religion–we are still partaking of a lifestyle that is not mainstream and often targeted for abuse.
So where am I going with this, and what can we be done? What do we collectively need to realize in order to withstand the potential threats we face to our rights and well being?
First of all, we are all affected by politics, some of us more than others. And we are all impacted by our upbringing, some of us more so than others. This is a good chunk of why I have urged pagans and polytheists to work on dumping their baggage as too many have come into polytheism–especially reconstructionist and revivalist polytheism–and other branches of paganism dragging their match luggage behind them and letting it color their perspective on the faiths they are attempting to practice. We all need to work on dismantling our pasts and the crap that holds us back, and in dealing with this topic especially so. There’s a lot we have to rethink, and institutionalized sexism, racism, transphobia, and homophobia are among those things. Unfortunately there’s a great deal of religious fervor devoted to the feeding and protecting of those -isms and phobias, and that is part of why the struggle continues in the United States.
More than anything regardless of our respective backgrounds we need to discuss the problem of toxic Christianity, as it’s dooming us all. We have Dominionists in the White House, people making laws not based on science but based on beliefs that focus around misogyny and the control of anyone with a uterus (especially black women), and children in cages in actual concentration camps. Yes, they are concentration camps and yes, I am Jewish. “Never again” is now. America needs to wake up, strengthen the protections and walls between church and state, get the offenders, enablers, and grifters out of their respective offices and take back our government from toxic Christianity and its followers which infiltrated the Republican party.
We need to stop making excuses for the attitudes that enable the behavior to go on. We need to stop pretending that voting won’t solve the problem, and also that voting alone will solve the problem. We must become comfortable with multitasking and with being vigilant long after the danger has past. Our culture, lack of proper regulations, and lack of consequences for those responsible are just a few things that are letting the cancer continue to grow and eventually kill us all. Toxic Christianity and its beliefs prop up white cis men at the expense of literally everyone else while tax exempt churches make large donations to politicians who back up their views.
I know that people are exhausted of the state of the world, especially those who have been fighting the longest and hardest, but I’m talking about the very heart of the issues that allowed America’s current government administration to do all that they are doing, and with the issues that affect us globally it won’t just be Americans who are in trouble, but the rest of the entire planet. Climate change alone has become a huge part of this, and it will literally kill us all if we don’t do something. We have 10-15 years left to be able to do anything about it. Toxic Christianity won’t care because toxic Christianity wants to usher in the end times and bring back Jesus. Toxic Christianity doesn’t think women should have rights let alone vote. Toxic Christianity only likes white people, heterosexuals, and cis men. The rest of us are deemed unworthy, unacceptable, and less than human.
I realize that there are a fair amount of occultists who are Christian, engage in Christian mysticism and Christian derived magical practices (yes, they exist). I’m also painfully aware that most occultists are not engaged in toxic Christianity. However, some are. There are a few fairly famous examples that I could give, particularly in the ceremonial magic communities. Some of you who are Christian mystics, witches, magicians, and occultists are already actively involved in fighting against fascism, white supremacy, and the patriarchy. I salute you and stand by you. We need to stick together and remember our commonalities over our differences. Please continue to use your religious privilege to call out those who continue to act as if religion is synonymous with Christianity and try to make decisions for the rest of us based on those beliefs and ideas. It continues to amaze me that someone like Jesus who challenged the patriarchy, those in positions of power, and his culture in general could possibly have inspired the ideas which these people perpetuate, and the failure falls not on religion but that of humanity.
The rest of us, however, do not come from Christian backgrounds. While most pagans and polytheists were originally Christian or from Christian homes, I was not. I lack religious privilege on a fairly substantial level. I run into monotheists and atheists all of the time who equate religion with Christianity and monotheism in general and use phrases like “Judeo-Christian” when they really just mean Christian. Religion is assumed to be entirely anti-science when my very faith honors deities for whom science and medicine are both sacred. When I don’t run into bigotry against paganism and polytheism, I run into anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism stems from toxic Christianity, too–as does Islamophobia. Anti-witchcraft and magic sentiments? Also from toxic Christianity. Anti-science beliefs and ideas surrounding climate change denial, anti-vaxxers, and flat earthers? Same.
And the list goes on.
We don’t need less religion or less Christianity; we need greater protections, more conversation, and the dismantling of the support toxic Christianity has received up to now. The problem lies not with specific religions, genders, or races, but in disproportionate privilege and power. Deconstructing privilege and balancing the scales begins with starting the necessary conversations about concepts such as the Paradox of Tolerance, and why tolerating intolerance needs to stop. We need to challenge ourselves and call on people around us who behave and speak inappropriately as compassionately but as decisively as we can.
Removing toxic Christianity from power both in our culture and in the American government will unfortunately not remove the attitudes and ideas it perpetuated. But it will prevent further harm to those who are among the marginalized and disenfranchised while we continue to try for a better world.