If you believed everything US conservatives say you’d think that Christians in their country are the most victimized group in the world. “We are seeing an assault on religious liberty from Washington that is unprecedented,” said Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, adding “these threats are growing and growing”. Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert even uses the P-word: “we’re being persecuted now, Christians are being persecuted here for our religious beliefs.”
Persecuted? Really? Do these people even know what that word means?
Conservatives have been agitating this way for years now but the rhetoric was ramped up after 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage. No matter how hard they whine, however, it’s very obvious that US Christians are not being persecuted and here are 5 reasons why.
1. They Can Still Worship Freely
As the dictionary points out true religious persecution involves oppression – in the widest sense treating people in an inferior way. Religion is about being able to worship the deity/deities of your choosing so oppression would mean Christians would be prevented from going to church, even having churches. Is this happening? No. At its most extreme persecution would involve Christians being systematically murdered because of their beliefs. Again, happening? Definitely not. And no, Justice Scalia of the Supreme Court wasn’t murdered because of his religion…
2. They Can Still Live By Their Beliefs
No one is preventing Christians from living according to their beliefs. What’s changed recently is that now they can’t force the rest of us gays to live according to their beliefs – as in living without the right to get married. But isn’t making poor Christian bakers bake cakes and county clerks provide marriage licenses forcing them to live contrary to their beliefs? Well, no. All they’re being asked to do is what they would do for anybody else – or in Kim Davis’ case, her public duty. Just because they don’t “believe” in gay marriage doesn’t mean they get to deny it, or any service for it, to a gay couple.
3. They Are Still The Majority
A 2014 study showed that 70.6% of American consider themselves to be “Christian”. Non-Christian faiths comprise 5.9% and 22.8% label themselves as non-religious. Could this faithless minority still manage to restrict the freedom of religious types? South Africa proved that a minority can oppress a group that outnumbers them but can Christians in the US really compare their current reality to non-whites under apartheid. In fact, they go further, comparing themselves to Jews in Nazi Germany. Well, yes.
4. Society Is Still Shaped By Their Beliefs
Christianity still pervades most facets of American life. Religious institutions there are untaxed on income. It says “In God We Trust” on US money.
Billboard magazine collects information on Christian music. Celebrities continue to reference “God”, “Jesus”, “Lord” and “the Almighty” when they win awards. It’s still very much a Christian-dominated society, the rest of us just live with it.
5. Real Religious Persecution Would Look Very Different
The issue for Christians isn’t the curbing of religious freedom – it’s the curbing of religious discrimination. They’re pissed because they’re finally being forced to treat others equally. Imagine what real religious persecution of Christians would look like. They would be denied the right to marry because of their religion. Their family would kick them out of the house when they revealed their beliefs. They would be fired from their jobs, kicked out of their rented homes, denied service at stores, have fewer rights around adoption and marriage, they would suffer violence and death – all for no other reason than who they were.
Yes, if they were really being persecuted they’d be suffering the exact same treatment that they have inflicted on gays and lesbians for decades.