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Friday, May 06, 2005

Will and Christians

George Will, a man who I admire greatly has written a column - “The Christian Complex” – that basically says: Christians are getting hysterical about nothing; chill out.

As proof, he cites the fact that:

  • George Bush said that non-believers can be good Americans.
  • That non-believers are so numerous they could make up the third largest state.
  • That the Terri Schiavo case was unpopular with the public.
  • That Pat Robertson has no objection to Rudy Giuliani as President.
  • That Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” is a very popular movie and the “Da Vinci Code” is a popular book (he must not have read it).
  • That the “Left Behind” series is very popular.
  • And that Presidents since Reagan end some of their speeches with “God bless America.”

Glenn Reynolds agrees with Will on this issue. As a libertarian, Reynolds has had his issues with Christian fundamentalists.

I repeat, I greatly admire Will and I rarely find myself in disagreement with him. Like Charles Krauthammer, Will thinks rationally and his conclusions are based on logic. But his “proofs” (read the whole thing) are not really germane. The logic of his thesis disappears when viewed from the perspective that asks the question: do Christians have nothing to fear? In fact, Will puts scare quotes around certain terms when he says: “There is much lamentation about various "assaults" on "people of faith."

What Will has managed to do is prove something that did not have to be proven: that there are a lot of Christians (“People of Faith”) in this country; and that there are a lot of people who are not. By showing that Christians are a majority, Will implies that they don’t need to fear persecution.

The only problem with his argument is that there is no historical evidence that majorities always rule a country and need not fear persecution by minorities. The Sunnis in Iraq are a minority, yet they ran the place under Saddam, oppressing the Shiite majority. Members of the Communist Party and members of the National Socialist Workers (NAZI) party were always minorities in Russia, Germany and China. Yet they ran their countries. The just completed elections in England demonstrate that members of Labor are a minority, yet they will govern for the next 5 years. Only in England, I do not expect Labor to persecute the Conservatives.

The nine members of the Supreme Court are an incredibly tiny minority, yet when it comes to a staggering number of issues in this country, they rule. Can my church put up a crèche on “public” land? A vast majority of people in this country would not object – have not objected for several hundred years – until the Supremes banished our little display of reverence under the guise of protecting American from my establishment of religion for the entire country; a proposition so bizarre it beggars parody.

Yet the passage of time has made this reasoning an article of faith – so much so that hardly anyone even thinks about it and automatically accepts it. That is the way that minorities rule. Mao has famously said the power comes from the barrel of a gun. When the court first ruled, there may have been incredulity, even outrage, but no one was going to rush to the barricades over a crèche. The government has the guns, and the Minutemen were not going to have a revolution over this. Not in this country. Instead there were other test cases, and when the Judges remained adamant, the majority put up their displays on private property and waited for the next insult to their beliefs and traditions. And so it has gone.

And so it has always gone when a determined minority rules a country.

And now we see a troubling next phase of the marginalization of “People of Faith,” their demonization. The equating of Christians with all-mighty bigots, knuckle draggers and Jihadis by prominent public figures like Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchins . There are very troubling precedents about this kind of de-humanization of a group of people. Once “People of Faith” are declared to be “outside the mainstream” and ideological brethren of people who fly planes into buildings and behead their opponents, it becomes acceptable to “do something” about them. What that something is, is yet to be determined.

The Washington Times reports on a conference called "Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right," which was co-sponsored by the New York Open Center, the City University of New York, and People for the American Way.

Thanks to Powerline you can read about one presenter:

The United States is "not yet a theocracy," Joan Bokaer, founder of, said Friday night, but she argued that "the United States is beginning to fit the model of a reconstructed America."
Tax cuts combined with increased funding for faith-based social programs and decreases in welfare spending, Ms. Bokaer said, were examples of "the theological right ... zealously setting up to establish their beliefs in all aspects of our society."

As Jonah Goldberg opines un NR Online, “His evidence that religion is thriving in America -- Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ," the Left Behind books, etc -- potent as it is, is not evidence that anti-Christian sentiment is declining. Indeed, it seems more logical to me that anti-Christian sentiment is rising precisely because Christians are asserting themselves more and that terrifies some people and annoys others”

Christians, like a large, torpid animal, have long allowed themselves to be subject to lies, hatred and vilification because they believed that their role as the majority in this country vouchsafed their freedom and viability. Now that their enemies are attacking on a broad front, in ways that would invite charges of anti-Semitism or racism if the subject of their attacks were Jews or minorities, Christians have stopped turning the other cheek. The problem is, unlike other persecuted groups, they don’t quite know how to react. And the George Wills and Glenn Reynolds are caught in a time warp, in a time when Christians were invulnerable.

Now that Christians are on the receiving end of undisguised hostility formerly reserved by the KKK for minorities like Jews and Blacks by bigots of various persuasions, their reflexive reaction is used as a weapons to bludgeon them by their enemies and a reason to cluck at them by the “sophisticated.”

We have a message for you. Don’t mess with us.

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