Christianity: Voice of the Oppressed or the Oppressors?
Yesterday I examined the point raised by many Christians and conservatives as to why Tim Tebow seemed to be ridiculed for his faith and Michael Sam praised for his sexuality. Despite the many valid responses to the article—suggesting that Tebow both had his share of praise and “sucked at the game”—many Christians point to this as yet another sign of how Christianity is “oppressed” in modern society.
Whether a case of a kind of oppressive-bias or simply a shift in the overall attitudes of society—and its need for religion—is there any truth to that claim? Globally speaking, all faiths experience some kind of oppression or prosecution and Christians are no different. The recent abduction of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram is but one example of what true religious persecution looks like. Yet here in America, listening to just one day of conservative Christian media one would think that Boko Haram’s attitude towards Christianity—absent the Islamic zealotry—is shared by the average progressive American.
Christianity, while enjoying a more than 200-year uncontested run as America’s dominant religion, has had a dubious relationship with being on the morally “right” position throughout history.
Both during the Abolitionist movement and, a century later, the Civil Rights movement, religious leaders played an integral role. When Christianity was brought to the first African slaves, along with it came a message that they deserved to be freed from “bondage.” While some of these messages were meant to refer to the afterlife, the beauty of religion is that how it inspires is always open to interpretation.
Conversely, some prominent Christians ended up on the wrong side of the women’s suffrage movement, although religion and oppression of women go hand-in-hand. While Christianity is not alone in its misogyny—and also, presently, not even close to the worst in this respect—it is worth noting that when it comes to women’s issues (meaning beyond abortion/birth control) Christianity often falls on the wrong side.
Which is why it seems that gays and Christians are bitter enemies in a war for the soul of the country. People turn to faith to provide them with moral guidelines and to explain the unexplainable things—Why are we here? What happens when we die? Etc.—which has led to an institution which abhors oppression, except where matters of sexuality are concerned.
Photo by Flickr User radiate2537 via Wikimedia Commons