Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Christian Right's Victim Mentality

One of the most bizarre parts of the Religious Right’s current political efforts is their victim mentality. They feel that godless liberals in the government have been waging a literal “war” against everything Christians stand for and want to destroy Christianity as a faith by pushing Christians to sin (if you need proof, just look at this fundraising letter from the Traditional Values Coalition). Conservative Christians argue that when the various courts in the nation support gay marriage and abortion, they are actually trying to destroy the faith and values of Christians throughout the country.

If you ask me, that’s a stupid argument. The courts have never forced anyone to marry another person of the same sex or forced expecting mothers to go through an abortion. They have simply given people the choice to do so. That’s what freedom is all about. If you don’t like it then don’t do it. Don’t blame others for your problems.

Furthermore, the Religious Right needs to stop arguing that the 1st Amendment requires the government to legislate in favor of Conservative Christian values. More than anything, it looks extremely ignorant because that’s exactly what the 1st Amendment prohibits. However, it’s always dangerous to label someone as stupid, so don’t think the leadership of the Religious Right doesn’t know what it’s doing. Fear has always been the most powerful political motivator in history. Just look at the events following 9/11. The populace supported Iraq simply because the administration successfully played off our fears of terrorism. When a religious leader tells his congregation that there is a liberal-sponsored war being waged against them, and does it in a riveting manner, the resulting emotions can quickly carry a crowd’s opinion towards the desired conclusions.

Conservative Christians’ victim mentality has gone so far that they have an interesting obsession with the idea that they are “soldiers” battling for the survival of their faith. I was watching the unsettling preview for the documentary Jesus Camp (you can see it here), and it shows just how martial the Religious Right has become. I wonder how many of them realize that they are “battling” to limit their own freedom. Can’t they see that government favoritism towards religion can quickly turn against them if another religious group rises to prominence and dominates the government in the same way the Christian Right hopes to dominate it themselves? Then they’d actually see a real rather than imagined assault on their faith.

The Christian Right needs to take a step back and realize just how free they are, stop blaming others for their problems, and quit acting like the government’s courts have been picking on them. The government does not tell any religious group in this nation how to conduct itself and (theoretically) should only step in when a religious group is harming others. Perhaps the change needs to come from within the Religious Right movement itself when its members demand that their leaders stop misleading them and stop distorting the way the American government operates. Unfortunately, I doubt that will happen, so the rest of us need to do what we can and keep this minority from dominating our lives the way they would like to.

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