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Repost of a repost

I reposted this almost 2 years ago when it was written. I'm doing so again because of the recent political events in this country concerning marriage equality and how it has opened those cracks in the woodwork once again. Here ya go:


elf (</a></b></a>elf) wrote,
 

There's no shortage of blog posts and comments by Christians, saying, "please don't consider me to be one of those nasty icky bigoted unthinking fundamentalists."
  • "Christianity is much broader, deeper and richer than fundamentalism."[1]
  • "I wish people wouldn't lump all Christians in the same group"[2]
  • "There is a vile strain of Christianity, indeed, but there are caring, thoughtful moderate and progressive Christians out there - millions of them." [3]
  • "I want it to be clear to you and your family that we do not all hate. We are not all bigots."[4]
I could quote more. (The roundup for this post turned up half a dozen more easily; I'm sure I could find more than that with a bit of work. Just plug "not all christians are" or "all christians aren't" into Google.)

As if I couldn't tell them apart; as if I am incapable of noticing the difference between a kind and thoughtful person and one who spouts bigotry and oppression and quotes a book to support it. As if I hadn't noticed that the majority of Christians, like the majority of people in every other religion, are basically decent folks who want good pay and healthy families and a bit of fun & leisure on the side. As if I can't tell a mundane from a scholar from a wingnut. (Believe me, I know from wingnuts.)

And on top of the insult to my basic perception abilities, there's the implication that I'm supposed to care which sub-sect they're allied with. That I'm supposed to keep track of the myriad varieties of Jesusites and sort out which official doctrines are bugfuck nutso (um, we can agree there are some of those, right?) and which ones are just somewhat pushy and which ones are openly tolerant of real diversity—and among those, which allow how much individual differences within the sect identification.

As if it were my responsibility, as a non-Christian, to sort out which of the followers of J the C are rational and caring human beings, like their scripture tells them to be, and which ones are using the same scripture to justify hatred and slaughter.

They want, they tell me (or my friends, or my allies, or people who share some of my beliefs) to be accepted for who they are. They want to be judged on their own merits, not lumped in with a bunch of bigots who get media attention 'cos they're rich and white and male. They want me to understand that they're "not like that."

You know what I want?

I want my kids to not be expected to attend school on the days of our religious services. I want strangers not to offer me the blessings of a deity I do not worship. I want members of my religion to be able to meet in public, anywhere in the US, without risking slashed tires, broken windows, and physical attacks. I want the freedom to answer questions about my religion without fear of reprisal, even if those questions come from children. I want judges to stop ruling that non-Christian influences are dangerous for children, and giving custody to the Christian parent. I want my president to stop reminding me that he doesn't represent my religion's needs or wants, that he is oblivious to my religion's truths.

And that's just the basic, don't-want-to-live-in-fear wants. I don't dare let myself have wants that Christians can take for granted… the ability to walk into a random drugstore and find greeting cards with my religious symbols on them, libraries to stock books about my religion and treat them with respect, prayers of my faith offered by public officials in times of disaster, history classes that acknowledge the history and importance of my religion. The ability to move somewhere where all my neighbors will be of my religion, or at least, will not hate it. The ability to hang holiday decorations in my windows, or on my cubicle walls, without facing a barrage of annoying questions, much less vandalism.

The pie-in-the-sky dream? The ability to have a public temple in a city of less than 100,000 people, where the government forms are handed out in seven languages--or in a rural area more than 10 miles from the nearest library. The ability for a dozen neighbors to pool their funds, buy a tiny plot of land, and build a religious services building they're pretty sure won't get burned down within a year.

I don't expect any of those to happen. Not in my lifetime, and maybe not ever. My religion's weird, and there's never been a whole lot of public acceptance of weird.

But I'd like to not have to hide my religious symbols under my shirt on the bus. And I'd like my kids to be free to attend our religious services when they're supposed to happen, not on the nearest JHVH-inspired holy day.

So, umm. The "nice" Christians don't like getting backlash about fundies. They believe they are persecuted by more restrictive branches of Christianity. Maybe they are. But they're not lacking privilege because of it—not all persecutions break along privilege lines. They're not being oppressed even when they're being hated.

And it is not. my. job. To figure out what kind of Christians are which, to figure out who belongs to what sect and where their individual beliefs lie.

I'm big on individualism. REALLY big on it. Enough to override decades of experience that tells me that anyone wearing a cross is probably a danger to me and my family, or at the very least, a danger to my comfort.

I don't *mind* the apologetics, exactly. They're a phase; Christians who are waking up to their privilege usually go through a stage of "OMG, I'm not like those people! I promise!" And what wakes them up, and what exactly they realize, is of interest to their friends. I am *endlessly* fascinated by all sorts of religious discussion, including the eternal "creation vs evolution" debate that I really can't understand as a dichotomy (I have no problems with both); I just don't have the energy to keep running on that hamster wheel.

But being interesting & entertaining doesn't mean something is new and innovative. There's a good deal of Special Snowflakism in most "All Christians Are Not Like That" posts. And more in most comments on news blogs.

Sometimes I'm amused by it. Sometimes I'm interested in a particular perspective. Sometimes, I seethe at the reminder that they have the safety to speak about their religious beliefs and practices, in public, without fear of reprisal. (Oh, I can speak up. I live in one of those aforementioned cities of over 100k people. Nobody cares what my religion is; I can dye my hair blue and wear black robes in public and nobody blinks. What I can't do, is safely move to a city ~100-300 miles away where the rent would be 1/3 of what we're paying, and be just as public.)

I am never happy about the reminder of how *trapped* I am.

This entry was originally posted at http://pj.dreamwidth.org/342921.html. Please comment here or there there using your LJ ID or OpenID.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
estaratshirai
May. 11th, 2012 01:38 am (UTC)
They're a phase; Christians who are waking up to their privilege usually go through a stage of "OMG, I'm not like those people! I promise!"

...Okay. This is going to be one of those magical times when I resist my impulse to respond. I'll just take my special snowflake butthurt and go sit over there.
pjvj
May. 11th, 2012 02:37 am (UTC)
When you're finished with your self imposed time out come back and reply.

Everyone goes through the, "But, but, but... I'm not like them" when they first discover their privilege. I did it with my white and hetero privilege. I felt the flip side against male and Christian privilege.

You now have experienced both sides of the Christian privilege. As have I since I was raised Methodist.
estaratshirai
May. 11th, 2012 03:10 am (UTC)
I feel like you're accusing me, one, of conflating my discomfort with "being oppressed" somehow. I have never felt oppressed a day in my life. Not as a woman, not as a bisexual, not as a Pagan, not as a Christian. I have always felt, rather, that every kind of life brings with it both blessings and problems. And that people who misjudged me because of what they think I am are wrong and are not going to stop me from doing what I do. None of that has changed.

I certainly, ffs, understand that being tarred with the same brush as the assholes who have made off with the name of my religion is not the same as "being oppressed." So why make noise about it? Because I have also learned that if progressive Christians *don't* make noise about it, and I mean loudly and constantly, there are not only people who think they don't exist, but lots of people - many of whom are, like yourself, from the circles I used to run in - who say that they are complicit in the sins of the Right by their silence. If one is wrong for speaking *and* wrong for not speaking, it is kind of disheartening. I, myself, have always erred on the side of speaking, as you know.

Two, to be quite honest, I find the idea that I've been blind to privilege and just now gotten stung by it is bullshit. Yes, there's things I've gained that I didn't have when I was agnostic or Pagan. The foo shops are closer and more plentiful. Nobody asks me if I dance naked in cornfields. I don't feel nearly as ambiguous about Christmas and Easter. Conversations with my in-laws about religion take longer to devolve into irrational shouting. But then again, I've also never had not only strangers but friends who knew me send me posts and articles and cartoons defaming my whole religion and/or my deity by the dozen every. single. day. until I became a Christian. Expecting not only my acquiescence but my approval. Granting that I was fortunate enough not to suffer the worst possible consequences of Paganism because of where I was, it is nonetheless my experience so far that I have gotten more flak, both in quantity and in quality, over being Christian, and from people whose opinions I cared more about.

As for never questioning this privilege I'm supposed to be acting blindly out of? Dude. PJ. How long have you known me? **I question everything. Loudly. That's what I do.** And on my end, when I combine that with the realization that you were totally ready to believe that I, being who I am, would tell someone they worshipped Jesus and didn't know it? It really tempts me to think that you believe everything you've always known about my nature flies out the window because now I like Jesus. That that one thing turns me from a beloved and outspoken friend into someone who is both vapid and a hypocrite.

Guess what...if that were so, it wouldn't be oppression, but it *would* be prejudice. And painful.

Lastly, and this might be misunderstanding on my part, but this did go back up the day after I did a post on conversations in which I have to defend Christianity, so I imagined the two to be connected in some way. But I posted that, and for that matter started the series of posts it's part of, largely because *you asked me to.*

So in closing, yeah. I really hope I'm misjudging where this whole conversation is coming from.
estaratshirai
May. 11th, 2012 03:31 am (UTC)
BTW I do now realize that if you *weren't* mentally linking your repost to my post, this whole response might seem bizarre and overblown to you. In which case, what can I say...the timing was really bad. :P
pjvj
May. 11th, 2012 04:03 am (UTC)
I have not read any of them yet. I began post #1 when it first went up, but since I couldn't read the whole thing I stopped after a few sentences with a promise to get back to it.

So ... whee ... Internet is fun. Always fun. :-/

I will read them.
pjvj
May. 11th, 2012 04:01 am (UTC)
LJ is making me answer in two posts
I think I don't know where most of this is coming from.

I feel like you're accusing me, one, of conflating my discomfort with "being oppressed" somehow

Where is THAT accusation? I thought your discomfort was coming now being in a religion that holds certain privilege in this society that you were unaccustomed to having. And I thought you took the part you quoted personally as it were being about you in particular so yeah - I thought the "wow, I have this privilege now" was a new thing.

I am happy you have never felt oppressed a day in your life. You are I think the only non-hetero semi-pagan female I have ever met who has said that. I have felt the effects of privilege, I and my beliefs have been shuttered to the sidelines, hushed, laughed at and my religious needs poo-poo'ed in many settings and I still feel I've had it pretty good compared to some. I've also been called a slut and whore by my parents because I was female and had sex before I married. Something my brother was not called. Something that was not even an issue for him along with many other things. And I heard it around the neighborhood, too. And worse. I encountered a shitton of it while a single pregnant woman and then single mother. (*ETA - this all relates to male privilege in the sense of "who has agency over a woman's body" which is a big trigger point for me in PA right now. )So yeah -- I can't say I've never felt oppressed. Part of the big gap in our experiences is personality. Some is geography and some is age.

I certainly, ffs, understand that being tarred with the same brush as the assholes who have made off with the name of my religion is not the same as "being oppressed." So why make noise about it? Because I have also learned that if progressive Christians *don't* make noise about it, and I mean loudly and constantly, there are not only people who think they don't exist, but lots of people - many of whom are, like yourself, from the circles I used to run in - who say that they are complicit in the sins of the Right by their silence. If one is wrong for speaking *and* wrong for not speaking, it is kind of disheartening. I, myself, have always erred on the side of speaking, as you know.

It looks like you completely skipped over this paragraph: "As if I couldn't tell them apart; as if I am incapable of noticing the difference between a kind and thoughtful person and one who spouts bigotry and oppression and quotes a book to support it. As if I hadn't noticed that the majority of Christians, like the majority of people in every other religion, are basically decent folks who want good pay and healthy families and a bit of fun & leisure on the side. As if I can't tell a mundane from a scholar from a wingnut. (Believe me, I know from wingnuts.) "

If you want to speak out against the wingnuts, go for it. I'm all for speaking out against wingnuts. It is when it is done with the sole intent of letting "the others" know that "not all Christians are like that!" that it is irritating. "The others" are not idiots (well, some are, but I digress) and know the ones that whore the mania for the media are not a representative sample of anything more than their own sect. After 9-11 I cannot tell you how many people expected all Muslims to stand up and defend their religion as peaceful every fucking time some wingnut terrorist-wanna-be made the news. People demanded "normal" Muslims to prove it by being a voice of reason every single time. Me? I never held that expectation. I think it is wrong to ask a member of a religion to speak for the whole. Same with Christianity. Same with Judaism. Same with Paganism.

con't next post


Edited at 2012-05-11 04:13 am (UTC)
pjvj
May. 11th, 2012 04:01 am (UTC)
post #2
Two, to be quite honest, I find the idea that I've been blind to privilege and just now gotten stung by it is bullshit.

I believe I already addressed this. I didn't think you were blind to it, I just thought you'd not had it before.

As for never questioning this privilege I'm supposed to be acting blindly out of? Dude. PJ. How long have you known me? **I question everything. Loudly. That's what I do.**

I never thought that.

And on my end, when I combine that with the realization that you were totally ready to believe that I, being who I am, would tell someone they worshipped Jesus and didn't know it?

Ok, I did think that. In my defense you only gave part of the story, it read first person to me, and I did still have initiation brain fog (which I still sort of do). But I took my lumps for that.

I do not see you as vapid and a hypocrite. The religious switch still twists my brain, though, it really really does which is why I asked for the 100 things that I did. I have not read them yet. I meant to. I still have the notification emails in my inbox as a reminder because I want to know what fits, but I've been a bit distracted. Did you read my post before this one? Life has been exceedingly difficult and busy. I promise I will read them, but no - I didn't read yet so I didn't know this would link to it at all. That was utter coincidence or the Universe trying to start some shit.
estaratshirai
May. 11th, 2012 04:25 am (UTC)
Re: post #2
So I have since gathered. Sorry about the crossed wire. We seem to be doing that lately. :P

I've reflected more on my statement on never feeling oppressed. I don't mean that I never felt misused privilege come down on me: when I lived in Idaho, it was pretty well all Mormon-run; there was a definite general knowledge of who was Mormon and who wasn't, and it had numerous ramifications. For one, we made special weekend trips to Wyoming to buy hard liquor for my parents; for another, half the population was pretty sure girls were for wearing frilly dresses, marrying young, and making lots of babies, and little else.

It was annoying; it had a definite impact on my life. But I never felt oppressed in the sense of thinking they had any real power over who I was or who I intended to become. I just thought they were *really stupid.*
pjvj
May. 11th, 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
Re: post #2
So I'm all caught up now. I appreciate the 100 things project you are doing. I hope it is useful for you, too.

The word "oppressed" hitches in me. I've never applied it to myself and when I read it I feel a distinct discomfort with doing so which I should probably analyze, but not right now. I have felt the effects of the weighted unfairness built in to this society. I have felt it more as a female than a Pagan simply because I've been one longer than the other.

I have felt the power-over associated with the privilege I don't have. Hell, I've felt it with the privilege I *do* have. I am stubborn, though. Very stubborn. So I mostly pushed through it to get what I wanted and the life I wanted. I can't say that I was always successful. I can say at some points I was quite fatigued and very resentful that I had to push so hard for what others just had ... just because. It wreaks havoc with my sense of fair play and pisses me off now moreso for others than myself.

They are "really stupid". They do still have power-over. <---- Reclaiming initiation, Starhawk bleed through will become even more pronounced as time goes on. :p
estaratshirai
May. 11th, 2012 04:55 am (UTC)
Re: post #2
Oh, sure. I understand that, and I resist it where I can, not least because I also do know that not everyone has the luxury of avoiding their own oppression just by not believing in its power. I'm just saying that the way I understand the word, it doesn't describe the feeling I have in response to power-over.
pjvj
May. 11th, 2012 05:14 am (UTC)
Re: post #2
I don't think a lot of people have the privilege (yes, I did do that) to rebel against the other forms of privilege in their life. I'm thinking the whiteness of my skin gave me enough power-over to have the resources (mental, material, educational) to push back against the male privilege I encountered.

And Paganism ... well there is a certain elite element to it. Having the space and resources to move to a fringe religion, at least as it is now in this country, seems to be a big part of the look and make-up of Paganism in the U.S. Black female Pagan lesbian - how many have you run into? For them to find a space of privilege they have to go pretty far to get it and by the time they've fought the effects of all the others ... well. It is so very complicated and convoluted.

I think I'm far into my tangents now. Plus I am exhausted. And the Otherworld keeps plaguing my dreams, but not hanging around after wake-up so I'm left with days of almost realizations and mere hints at what I should be doing. I think I need bed. It is after 1 here and I had been doing so well at getting to bed at a proper time. Initiation blew that all to hell. I did ask for it ....

And to reiterate, I do love you, my dear. I always assume good intentions with you. Even when our wires get crossed and I don't understand exactly what you're saying or what triggered what I never think it comes from a place of ill will. Just so you know.
estaratshirai
May. 11th, 2012 05:49 am (UTC)
Re: post #2
Black female Pagan lesbian

LOLOLOL, unfortunate example here...I initiated one. But I get you. XD

Good night! Rest your tired head.
pjvj
May. 11th, 2012 02:47 pm (UTC)
Re: post #2
I had a feeling that was coming, but it is still uncommon in Paganism even in highly diverse areas like yours.

Head is rested, thanks. :-)
skyth
May. 11th, 2012 12:54 pm (UTC)
Actually, I think speaking out and visibily offering a different example than the wingnuts is a 'good' thing. A lot of people are drawn to Paganism because of the abuses of the wingnuts so much that the wingnuts have, in the minds of alot of non-Christians, effectively redefined the definition of what it means to be Christian.

I find the articles about Christians calling out the wingnuts, and explaining how they are not really Christian at all to be very powerful.

This is similar to the backlash against certain members of the Pagan community that try to speak for all Pagans.
pjvj
May. 11th, 2012 02:44 pm (UTC)
I think individual Christians calling out other Christians and saying whether they are or are not Christian is not my concern. "Judge not" unless they are an extreme and make you look bad? What gives them the right to define another's faith? Or to strip it away? There may be something in their tenets that gives them that power. I don't know. And see - I don't *need* to know because it is not my religion so none of my business. The "he's not really a Christian" is generally followed with a, "so don't hate me because I am!"

As if. How incredibly full of conceit one must be to think that random strangers give enough of a shit about you to "hate" you. How very ignorant of human nature you must feel non-Christians are to think they need you to tell them who the crazy ones are. As if we don't have crazies of our own like every other type of group out there.

So, no *I* don't find their decrying of the crazies powerful or even necessary same as I don't expect every Muslim to stand up and decry the actions of al qaeda.
pjvj
May. 12th, 2012 02:57 am (UTC)
I do feel compelled to add that people separating themselves from the "bad apples", saying "they believe 'this' and I do not therefore they are not my tribe" is a worthwhile thing to do and not just for themselves. Irritations come up for me when they feel it is okay for them to say the bad apples are not the faith they claim to be. Sure they are, just a fucked up version of it. There are far too many politicians with the fucked up view getting elected and re-elected for it to be a select few who follow that brand of that faith. And people easily accept so many as aberrations.

Also the irritation that they can speak freely about it all and people listen to them, yet when I say that the baby rabbit sacrificing nutjob who just tried to rob a bank on the news is not "one of my tribe" I get shushed and dismissed.

The above 2 things? The main gist and reason I reposted this. It's about privilege, not about good and bad Christians.

Edited at 2012-05-12 02:59 am (UTC)
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