Something’s been bugging me for a while now, and since this is my blog, where I get to rant, I think I’ll do so.
It is very difficult, in a representative democracy, for a group in the majority to be oppressed. And yet I hear weekly, if not daily, from Christians, white dudes, and men. Let’s get something straight: none of you are oppressed.
Christians: in a recent Gallup Poll, three quarters of Americans identify as Christian. The most recent census data have almost exactly the same results. So, if you identify as Christian, there are three times as many of you as everyone else put together. You are the majority, by a long shot. Folks like me (atheists) constitute less than a percent of the population (though I suspect a lot of the “no religion” and “decline to state” folks are closet atheists). I am the minority. In a place where religious freedom wasn’t guaranteed, I might have to live in fear of being jailed, tortured, or executed for my (lack of) beliefs. But because I live in the United States of America, with it’s lovely Constitution and Bill of Rights, I just get to know that I am in the least-trusted, most-despised religious group in America.
But I get to be an atheist.
Christians are the majority. There’s no “War on Christmas”. Me saying, “Happy Holidays” doesn’t change Christmas, or what it means, to anyone who believes in Christ. Incidentally, I also say “Merry Christmas”. Depends on the day. The fact that I, a woman who believes Jesus was a nice Jewish kid with a hammer who gave a good speech, still celebrates Christmas shows you just how much Christianity has a foothold in this country.
Why, then, do Christians say they’re oppressed? (Most don’t, incidentally. But a subset, all, in my mind, delusional, insist they are.) Near as I can tell, it boils down to being asked to tolerate behaviors and beliefs they disapprove of, and, on the flip side, not being able to force their specific brand of religious observation on everyone else.
There are numerous examples of this: campaigns to pull evolution out of science textbooks, to eliminate sex education in school, to make abortion illegal…all of these are attempts to force one’s own version of morality on others. The most obvious recent example, however, is same-sex marriage.
Homosexual behavior is considered a sin in many religions, including many sects of Christianity. Sure. I get that. But it’s irrelevant to the issue of marriage. Because Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…in other words, the government isn’t allowed to care whether your religion forbids a specific behavior when making/upholding laws. And here’s the thing that this specific and vocal group of Christians (Mike Huckabee, I’m looking at you) don’t get: IT DOESN’T ABRIDGE YOUR FREEDOM TO EXERCISE YOUR RELIGION WHEN OTHER PEOPLE ARE GAY IN THE SAME COUNTRY AS YOU. Why is that so hard to get?
In this country, your religion doesn’t get to come packaged with the ability to force your religious beliefs on others. Your desire for everyone to behave as you do doesn’t trump others’ civil rights. You are still allowed to believe that gay people are evil. You are still allowed to think queer people marrying one another is abomination. You are NOT allowed to force that belief on others. And if your job is to hand out marriage licenses, you are actually not allowed to refuse to give them to gay people based on your religious beliefs. If your religious beliefs require you to not do your job, you need to get another job. You are not oppressed by the very existence of queer people. If you’re trying to withhold a basic civil right because you disagree with it for religious reasons, you’re the oppressor, dummy.
White Dudes: Okay, it’s not always dudes, here, but more often than not. Again, though, the numbers: 77.7% of Americans are white. More than three times as many of us as anyone else. It’s easier for us to get jobs, loans, mortgages. African-Americans are six times more likely to die by homicide (before you say “black on black crime”, most white victims are murdered by white people. Irrelevant to the argument). And the biggie: most African-Americans are here because their ancestors were brought here as slaves. Seriously, it’s only been 150 years since we stopped OWNING PEOPLE.
It’s actually a lot to expect people to be “over it” in such a short time, especially when the disparities are still huge, and when racism is still obvious and pervasive. I know a lot of people who just want to pretend racism is over. It’s black people wanting special treatment who are perpetuating it.
Are you freaking kidding me with this? Let’s recap: just this month, nine people murdered by a white supremacist who did bible study with them for an hour first. As a result, widespread calls for us to finally, FINALLY, stop flying the Confederate Battle Flag over government buildings across the American South.
The reaction of many white people? “It’s not important; it’s just a cultural symbol; why are you attacking white culture?”
Let me take a moment to be offended by the idea that the Confederate Flag is a symbol of my culture. I’m not on board with a flag flown by an army of traitors fighting a war to be allowed to continue owning other people as property being symbolic of my culture. If you are, then, yeah, you’re the oppressor, dummy.
(Oh, and following the semi-successful campaign to get rid of that flag? Six black churches burned down in the past week. But, sure. Racism is so over.
Men: Let me start by acknowledging that men aren’t the majority. But then everyone reading, acknowledge that men have historically had the vast majority of the property, money, and power. It hasn’t even been 100 years since women got the right to vote in this country (and we had to fight for it, hard). Women are raped on the street, then blamed for “dressing wrong”. Women get paid less than men, and it’s excused because they…reproduce. The list goes on.
I’m running short of time (kids to retrieve from daycare, ahem), but let me say: if you feel like you’re being oppressed because a retired Nobel Laureate, a man with a lot of power and influence, makes a terrifically sexist series of jokes in front of a room full of women (and later admits it’s not really a joke), has to resign from a couple of honorary positions…you’re the oppressor, dummy.
Do the rest of us a solid, and grow the hell up, folks with power. Seriously, we’re trying to have a civilization here.