Yesterday, I wrote that I have little tolerance for Christians who feel “unwelcome” in certain circles – be they writers, scientists, or academics. I received a little pushback on Google+ from a good friend of mine, which made me think a little bit about what I wrote.
I maintain my point, but perhaps I should express it better. Certainly, there are spaces in the U.S. where Christians might feel unwelcome. I used to be a member of an online forum that was like that. So religious folks might experience some condescension and asshole-ish behavior from non-religious folks, but I still don’t think that there is really anything in the U.S. that would prevent a Christian from doing what ze wants to do – whether ze wants to be a writer or an evolutionary biologist.
Let’s make a feminism analogy – even though I said this wasn’t about feminism. In the comic to the left, which has gotten a lot of notoriety since it was initially published at Gabby’s Playhouse (make sure you click the link to go see the whole thing – this is only one part of several), Gabby pokes some fun at the way some men tend to steal focus away from women on the internet.
You see, sometimes, dudes go into a feminist space, and sometimes they say something sexist, and then sometimes they get butthurt because they feel like everyone’s ganging up on them. Social justice advocates and people who are versed in talking about such things might tell you that part of the reason a dude may feel shitty in a situation like that is because dudes are so used to operating in systems where their voices are privileged over everyone else’s, and so it feels uncomfortable for them to step into a space where that is not the case.
I’d argue similarly that when Christians get into spaces that aren’t Christian-dominated, they might feel a little uncomfortable. I mean, after all, Christians make up a vast majority of the population – close to 80%. So, the logic that many activists would use tells us that some of that belly-aching about feeling unwelcome in academia or art might be attributable to the fact that everything else in U.S. society is framed for Christians, and that discomfort is actually just the experience of things not being Christian-centric.
I recognize that that is extremely simplistic and does not account for asshole atheists. I’m getting there.
Seriously guys – there are atheists who are assholes. There are also Christians who are assholes, but nobody deludes themselves into thinking that just because some Christians do super asshole-y stuff that all Christians are assholes. Are there some atheists out there who are self-righteous snobs? Of course. Assholes span all races, classes, and systems of belief, guys. For serious. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.
But when we are talking about actual persecution and oppression, assholes have nothing to do with it. Well, they often have something to do with it, but it has more to do with who holds power in a larger system. So maybe a dude wanders into a feminist space and feels persecuted there (we don’t need to get into the reasons why – maybe he’s just being a baby, or maybe the ladies are actually being super mean to him) – that does not change the fact that we live in a society that systematically oppresses women. And I’m not kidding – there are men out there* who really believe that just because some feminists have been mean to them, that men are an actual oppressed group in the U.S. (never mind the fact that women still tend to make roughly 25% less than men do when performing the same job, and never mind that most film, television, and literature is male-centric, and never mind… oh, whatever).
We also live in a society where atheists almost never achieve public office, where our currency says “God” on it, and where our president mentions “non-believers” in his inaugural speech, and Fox News throws a shit-fit about it. Our federal holidays not only celebrate significant dates in American history, but also Christian holidays. Our work week is designed to accommodate Christians. I think I can pretty confidently say no one is oppressing a Christian in the United States based on hir religion.
Whether some people are mean to Christians… well, that’s a completely different discussion. Maybe if all non-Christians made an agreement to not be assholes for a day, we could help disentangle the oppressors from the jerks.
*This is not to say that there isn’t a place for men’s activism and that Men’s Rights groups have absolutely no grounds for their movements. But when you encourage people to play “Feminazi Monopoly,” you have to wonder what the motivation is here – is it actually dealing with real issues that really affect men, or is it pushback against women’s rights movements? You tell me.