We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Woe Is Us

A recent news item on the Huffington Post (here), reports on the views of Rep. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, namely that, "the greatest minority under assault today are Christians. No doubt about it."  The posting, unfortunately, doesn't give more details about Scott's statement, only associating it with claims made by Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich.  Gingrich has accused "the media" of ignoring what he terms, "anti-Christian bigotry," which he claims is much worse in the U.S. today than is Christian bigotry against others.

While there is no question that militant "new atheism" and others have been grabbing headlines with their anti-religion campaigns, the massive presence of organized religion and especially organized Christianity in the U.S. makes it impossible to take Scott and Gingrich seriously on this matter.  The Christian Right's zealous anti-abortion and anti-gay movements dwarf the efforts of the atheist folks, as does the considerable political clout of the Christian Right.  Even though most denominations in the U.S., including evangelical ones, are seeing decline in their numbers and the number of "unchurched" continues to grow, it will be a long time before Christians can seriously consider themselves a minority by any meaningful definition of the term.  Scott's sentiments are especially hard to take seriously considering where he hails from, the heart of the heart of the Bible belt, where evangelicalism is an unofficial "established religion."

It's "nice" of Scott and Gingrich to be worried about us (Christians), but what would seem to be more expressive of Christ himself would be a greater concern for the growing numbers of displaced and poor Americans for whom low income is far more oppressive than anything we Christians are experiencing.  Gingrich's rhetoric about the poor ("take a bath, get a job") seems especially wide of the mark given the economic realities we're facing today.  And, finally, historically Christians have sometimes even welcomed persecution because it is in such times that for some reason the church has best been able to share its message.