Thursday, February 27, 2014

Arizona Anti LGBT Bill Is An Example Of Christian Privilege

Many people were fooled into believing that Arizona's anti-LGBTQ bill was simply a good-hearted attempt to shield those poor, persecuted Christians from a changing world that they, I guess, want nothing to do with. It was a bill that (thankfully) was vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in the face of businesses telling her that they didn't want, nor need the bill, as businesses ALREADY have the right to refuse service to anyone, and this would be obviously directed at slighting the LGBTQ population, and any other minorities Christians don't like. This could include Atheists, people of any religion other than Christianity, people of color, people who had kids out of wedlock, etc etc.

The effects of the bill could have also made it legal for different Christians to discriminate against other Christians, which I can only imagine is something they never thought of. Someone from a Protestant church for example might be able to deny services to a Catholic, or maybe a Muslim could deny a Jew the right to come into their stores. From the beginning, this feeble minded, short-sighted bill was something that never should have been passed by the Arizona legislature, but it was, and Gov. Brewer did probably the only sane thing I have ever seen her do. Veto it.

But let's not lose sight of what is actually going on. In America, there are several sects that enjoy 'privilege'. The rich, the white, and the religious. You've heard about the so-called "1%", billionaire plutocrats who have all of our money. You've probably heard an awful lot lately about 'white privilege', the unspoken and not-so-subtle benefits of being white, like being hired over an equally qualified person of color, or not being followed around in a store while browsing its wares, or not being questioned by a police officer or arrested when you've clearly broken the law... yes, that is white privilege. But there is an underlying privilege that goes wholly ignored, probably because it is the largest majority in the USA - Christian Privilege.

Now, many Christians don't know or even want to believe that they could be the source of this 'privilege' thing, but if you think about it, this is THE root cause of 'privilege' in our society. They wouldn't know about it because Christians make up around 80% of the USA, and you would only understand if you, like me, are not a Christian. When W.A.S.P.S. (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) came to the USA, they brought with them their status, their wealth, and of course, their religion and that famous 'holier than thou' attitude which begets - you guessed it - entitlement. Christians have always felt entitled on American soil to its land, its resources, and its territories.

Native Americans were one of the first casualties of 'Christian Privilege' and W.A.S.P. culture, which back then was referred to as 'Manifest Destiny', or the belief that God himself has given Christendom the right and the duty to rule, and dominate the land, its animals, and spread the gospel at any cost. This resulted in the barbaric genocide of the Native Americans, the Mexican-American war, and leads to where we are today. If you are not a white CHRISTIAN in this country, you are at the near bottom of the privilege totem pole.

I am a white Atheist. And believe me, I don't enjoy half of the 'privilege' that other whites do, even though some privileges are still apparent. I have been fired from jobs for my lack of faith, when I was outed as an Atheist by a co-worker. I have been told I am going to hell. I have been told I am worthless, and I have been looked down upon by Christians of ALL colors. And yes, I have been refused service at a store because of this (could have been the shirt I was wearing with Jesus riding a velociraptor...). I've even been assaulted for speaking out against religion. This is when I started to realize that 'privilege' isn't nearly as simple as being white, the religious component is a keystone to this.

While an African-American/Black Christian will not experience the same level of privilege (if at all) as a white Christian, the privilege exists within communities, towns, and even states, and among minority populations. For example, I have an African-American friend who recently decided she no longer could believe in God, and stopped going to church, and bravely told her family about her change of heart, hoping that they would understand. They didn't. They wouldn't. Her community instantly ostracized here, and shunned her, including some in her own family. Now she was female, black, and alone without any community, except other Atheists, and they were strangers to her. It broke my heart to see her have to crawl back to her old church, and lie about her faith returning, just so she could again enjoy the support of a community. This is Christian Privilege. And it is ugly. It hurts people.

The laws that are being proposed by Christian politicians, with backing from Christian special interest groups, such as the Family Research Council, are meant to solidify Christian privilege into the United States Constitution in violation of the 1st Amendment. Ironically, these very people claim they are actually PROTECTING the Constitution, without realizing their violations, even going so far as to cite the actual language. Pat Robertson, the host of the '700 Club', and typical provocateur of all things sane, recently told his viewers that these laws SHOULD pass because we "...shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"... I am not sure he understands what that means. That means government cannot make laws governing religious belief, and religion cannot influence government. Of course, we know that happens all the time, sadly. Every last member of Congress, our President, and our Judiciary (all three branches of government), are almost exclusively religious, and the vast majority are a flavor of Christianity.

So in effect, the United States is nearly incapable of understanding its own constitution, and unwilling to face the reality that the founding fathers wanted the United States to be a free, secular nation. They wanted every citizen to be able to choose their own destiny, and their own faith (or no faith at all). They never wanted government to 'respect' an established religion over another, and yes, Christians, that includes you.

But the recent spate of laws trying to enshrine Christianity as law, especially in regards to the teaching of evolution in classrooms, to granting gays, lesbians, and transgenders the freedoms that everyone in the Christian world enjoys (the right to fall in love, and stay with that person, for example) ought to raise alarm bells for all of us. Attempting to elevate one belief system over all is an obvious attempt at a power grab, and those that actually believe they should have that privilege need to think long and hard about it.

Let's be really blunt. Christianity is not under attack. Christianity has a cognitive dissonance issue in regards to science, and reality. It can accept the world is not flat. It can accept that the sun does not revolve around the earth. It can even accept in some cases that the universe is big (I mean, look up, right?). But if you say that species evolved over millions of years, or that the earth is over 4.2 billion years old, or that the speed of light is a constant, they consider this to be (somehow) a direct threat to their belief system, and thus, consider it an attack. If you mention that there are thousands of other religions in the world, this does not register. It is a quaint notion that deserves no thought at all. This is exacerbated by 'news organizations' like Fox News, who play up all of these Christian fears of Atheists killing Santa Claus, or gays teaching their children to be homosexuals, or NFL players showering with a gay guy in the locker room. If I was that brainwashed, I might think the world was ending too. But its not.

U.S. right-wing, and some left-wing, Christians unapologetically think they own this country (although obviously not ALL of them are like this, some are aware of their privilege and thankfully tone it down). They believe their own version of history, where the founding fathers were making a Christian nation (never mind that the 'under God' bit on our money, and in our pledge was added during the Cold War). They unapologetically believe they have every right to tell others how they need to live, and that your perceived 'sin' in any way affects them. They unapologetically want to create a theocracy in a democratic republic. This is Christian Privilege. And it is the next civil rights struggle. Once Christian privilege is properly toned down, you'll see a lot of ethnic/racial privilege go away with it, of this, I can guarantee. 

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