Mike the Mad Biologist

The Cult of ‘Christian’ Victimhood

bushbaby
(via Shakespeare’s Sister)

I’ve always found it odd that Christian conservatives constantly claim victim status, particularly when so many of them, when it comes to foreign policy are so convinced that will can overcome anything. It’s sort of like Norman Vincent Pearle but with fighter bombers. Then again, logical consistency isn’t exactly the Christian conservatives’ strong suit.

The latest hue and cry of discrimination revolves around pharmacists and other healthcare workers who refuse to provide legal procedures and medications such as contraception and birth control. Shakespeare’s Sister has the best takedown of this false claim of victimhood (bold original, italics mine):

This culture of victimhood among conservative Christians is ridiculous in the extreme. It is–yet again–predicated on the flawed assertions that their version of Christianity is the only version, and that it is the exclusive source from which morality can be derived. The morality of all the other Christians, all the people of other religions, and all the non-religious people who don’t have these personal issues on the job don’t figure a whit. Of course they don’t–because if they did, the barking lunatics who equate oppression with a requirement of compliance with one’s basic job description might have to face the reality that there’s not some insidious siege upon religious freedom, but instead just a minority group whose religious beliefs make them intrinsically unfit to hold positions as healthcare providers.

(Read the rest of Shakes’ post for the perfect analogy to what they are doing)

I encountered a similar phenomenon on a flight from DC. I was waiting in National Airport, minding my own business, and reading the journal Evolution on the weekend the Promise Keepers were in town. Flush from their gathering (which as far as I could tell involved a lot of men hugging each other, making indistinguishable from the less risque parts of any Gay Pride parade), several of them who were also waiting for the flight decided to ask me why I ‘believe’ in evolution. The conversation wandered all over the place–I don’t they had ever talked to a Jew before, certainly about theology.

When we got to the topic of salvation, they were absolutely flabergasted: it simply was beyond their conception that one wouldn’t worry excessively about getting into heaven or the afterlife. At some point, it started to dawn on them, “Holy Hephastasus, this guy is just as bugshit crazy as we are.” (liberal translation by the Mad Biologist). Much of their personal existence revolved around bringing ‘lapsed’ or ‘fallen’ people back to the fold, but they really didn’t know what to make of someone who was quite confident in his belief system, and that belief system was fundamentally different than theirs (whereas a religious minority or an atheist is always aware of this).

Now, we can all just get along, but at some point, people are going to have to learn to tolerate other people’s beliefs. For example, some of us believe, quite fervently, that a five day embryo is not alive, and that it is “as water.” Some of us believe, quite fervently, that there are situations where a woman is morally obligated to terminate a pregnancy (no, really).

And this intolerance carries many costs. A deadly delay on the approval of the HPV vaccine. Abstinence only education. Dogmatism on alcohol and drug addiction, and all of the ensuing problems. Opposition to stem cell research. But to truly recognize these differences would mean they would have to sincerely engage their critics (as opposed to proseltyzing). That would force them to accept the consequences of their declarative statements. And that means they could be wrong. And we certainly can’t have that…

Comments

  1. #1 jbruno
    July 19, 2006

    But to truly recognize these differences would mean they would have to sincerely engage their critics (as opposed to proseltyzing). That would force them to accept the consequences of their declarative statements. And that means they could be wrong. And we certainly can’t have that…

    You’re absolutely right. How can you pin someone down if they will not appear in a diverse public forum? Preaching to the “choir” so to speak, carries with it no risk of opposition, leaving you room to demonize your opponents with
    impunity.

    I love the TV news presentations of stem cell research. They never show a complete representation of what an embryo actually is, which leads people to believe scientists wish to abort fully-formed fetuses in order to harvest the stem cells they need.

    But the media is well-known for equating expertise poorly. “Now, we have to get both sides, so we’ll invite Pastor Jim of Deep South Baptist Church to debate evolution with Richard Dawkins.” It’s not really that extreme, but you get my point.

  2. #2 natural cynic
    July 19, 2006

    Searching for a way to project one’s own victimhood is such a common human trait. Sometimes it may actually be true, but more often it is used to cover up one’s own inadequacies. The meme of Muslim victimhood was seen most clearly with the protests against the cartoons portraying Muhammad in an unfavorable light. Osama effectively uses the meme of crusader domination to his advantage. The plight of poor little noble Israel has been used for decades to elicit sympathy and support. Now the eschatological and neocon memes have been added support to an obviously superior military power that still banks on sympathy. One thing that I think is keeping ID/creationism going is the idea that they think they are fighting this noble, uphill battle against some evil, atheistic foe. It certainly happens in sports – The Red Sox were celebrated for their victory two years ago [still waiting for justice for the Cubs]. People mostly want to be percieved as the noble underdog even when they are obviously the overdog.

  3. #3 Roger
    July 19, 2006

    I am a Christian and my family has turned out more than a couple of church leaders, but the way I was raised taught me that there’s a difference between being persecuted for the sake of one’s religion and/or beliefs and running into trouble because of personal actions born of one’s own prejudice and lack of respect for another person.

    Roger

  4. #4 kemibe
    July 19, 2006

    Mike — great post. It inspired a quickie on my own blog.

    By the way, I have a smile on my gourd at your having selected “Fucking Morons” as a category. I think this should be one of the supercategories, actually. Think Katherine would go for it? ;o)

  5. #5 kemibe
    July 19, 2006

    Oops. Forgot that for whatever reason I can’t generate an active link using HTML on these blogs. Thus I give you…

    http://scienceblogs.com/bushwells/2006/07/the_marginalization_of_the_maj.php

  6. #6 Mike the Mad Biologist
    July 19, 2006

    Kevin,

    thanks & I agree with your post.

  7. #7 Academic Freedom Rider
    July 20, 2006

    Cocksucking bigot.

    Go to Kansas Citizens for Science and spill your bile, that what that site is for.

    All in the name of “Science Education” of course.

  8. #8 subterranean kryptonite
    July 20, 2006

    The first two words represent a fascinating, but typical, contradiction in terms for this troll, who has been on a rampage since its ur-identity was banned at KCFS yesterday. I say ur-identity since I have identified forty-one sockpuppets it has used, seven invented just today.

  9. #9 Mike the Mad Biologist
    July 20, 2006

    I think ‘Academic Freedom Rider’ makes my point for me. He can’t respond, so all he(?) can do is yell “cocksucker!”

    What a weakling. It must suck to be on the wrong side of history…

    By the way, how did he find me?

  10. #10 J. Todd Ormsbee
    July 21, 2006

    This is that weird twisted logic of conservatives that if someone disagrees with them or if someone believes something different than they do that they are being persecuted. It is the most profound misunderstanding of “tolerance” in our democracy today. And it is among the most dangerous. If you have to remake society after your own moral image and if you have to control people who are unlike you; if indeed you believe that democracy can only work in a culturally homogenous society, then you are on your way to fascism (I don’t mean that as hyperbole, but rather as a political category).

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