Last night on national TV, while most Americans were getting ready to listen to the President talk about Iraq, Chris Matthews filled a room with about 1,500 Evangelical Christians, two Jews and a Muslim. Next, he asked them questions about...
Last night on national TV, while most Americans were getting ready to listen to the President talk about Iraq, Chris Matthews filled a room with about 1,500 Evangelical Christians, two Jews and a Muslim. Next, he asked them questions about the separation of church and state, abortion, and morality. He called the whole thing a healthy discussion about religion.
What did America learn?
Well, we learned that America has very serious problem. We learned that Christians in this country are the victims of widespread discrimination so extreme that the moral foundation of our nation is at risk. We learned that the plight of Christians in this country, today is the same as the plight of segregated blacks was in the 1950s. We learned that our country is facing a battle like the civil rights battle to stop Christians from being excluded from American society. We learned that the repression of Christianity in this country is systematic, and has been going on for years. We learned that this country has become so committed to the rights of minorities that it has forsaken the rights of the majority.
Here's a few quick questions I would have posed in the course of this "discussion" if I were Chris Matthews:
- Can anyone think of a day in our national calendar when Federal and State offices are closed because of a Christian Holiday?
- Can anyone think of one President or Vice President, or any member of the President's cabinet who was a church-going Christian?
- Can anyone name a Representative or Senator in Congress who has not been forced to resign once he or she became openly Christian?
- Can anyone think of a state level representative who openly practices Christianity?
- Can anyone think of a state or federal judge who has been appointed to the bench or elected despite being Christian?
- Can anyone think of any U.S. diplomats who retained their jobs once it was discovered that they were raised Christian?
- Can anyone think of any Christian symbols that are mounted and celebrated in our nation's capital on an annual basis?
- Can anyone think of a single town in America where it is safe to attend a Christian church?
- Can anyone think of a single place in America where Christian Churches have not been the subject of regular abuse from the public?
- Can anyone think of a single U.S. University that does not have a quota system to guard against the hiring of too many Christian professors?
- Can anyone think of a supermarket in America where Christians are allowed to purchase food that meets their dietary requirements?
- Can anyone think of a bookstore in America that sells the Christian Bible or other Christian texts?
- Can anyone name a musician--alive or dead--who was allowed to sing songs in public or sell music based on Christian themes?
- Can anyone name a single movie in America, popular or unpopular, that was based on a Christian topic and that more than a few people have actually heard of?
- Can anyone think of a single Christian organization that has not been banned by law from walking door to door and telling Americans about Jesus Christ and the gospels?
- Can anyone name an instance where a Christian stood on a public street corner, preached the gospel to passersby, but was not instantly arrested by the police?
- Can anyone think of any museum in America that has been courageous enough to display a painting or sculpture that contained Christian imagery?
- Can anyone think of any shows on TV that have Christian themes or talk about Christianity in an overt way--and which have actually been allowed to stay production longer than a few weeks?
- Can anyone think of anywhere in America where it is possible to turn on the radio and hear Christian themes, ideas or gospel?
- Can anyone name a website that discusses Christianity, but which has not been shut down by the government?
- Can anyone think of a U.S. airline that has not had at least one incident where a passenger was removed from a flight for looking too Christan?
- Can anyone think of a single instant where the U.S. government sent so much as one official representative to attend the funeral of a well-known Christian leader?
- Can anyone name one Christian friend or relative who has not been denied a promotion because they were Christian?
- Can anyone name one corporation in America that does not actively prevent its managers from hiring Christian employees?
- Can anyone think of a major restaurant chain in America that his not violated the rights of Christians by denying them service?
- Can anyone think of a single social club in America that does not have a clause in its club charter preventing Christians from becoming members?
- Can anyone think of a hotel or resort in America that does not actively discourage reservations from Christians?
- Can anyone think of any place in America where citizens feel safe enough to wear jewelry that contains Christian symbols?
- Can anyone name a single college in America where Christian students are not in the minority?
- Can anyone think of a hotel or motel in America that allows Christians to place so much as one Christian Bible in one bedside drawer in one of their rooms?
- Can anyone name one part of America where being outwardly Christian is looked upon as a good thing?
America has a serious problem, alright. But that problem is not discrimination against Christians.
The problem that America has--and that people like Chris Matthews make much worse--is that Americans have developed the habit of talking about Christians in this country as if it they were an oppressed minority.
They are not. But that kind of talk is just a habit. And habits can be broken.
America is a country that has and always will embrace religious freedom and religious diversity. The problem we have at this moment is that one small faction of one denomination of Christianity is shouting with a clear unified voice that they want the government to follow their rules and to look more like them.
Well, that government and our whole way of life already has a lot of the markings of this group that is shouting, but for some reason they cannot see it. Or is it that they refuse to see it?
What the rest of America should be doing is not giving voice to these shouts, but we should all be shouting that we want more religious viewpoints and a wider variety of religions to be expressed in our national culture.
Wouldn't it be great if Yom Kippur was a national holiday every year? Everyone knows when that is, right? And it would be awesome if our government would close down for at least the most important days of Ramadan. Most people probably mark off those days on their calendar anyway, right?
So I ask everyone who believes that Christians in this country are the victims of persecution to go through my list of questions and see what kinds of answers you come up with.If anyone can find just one shred of evidence that Christians are not being systematically excluded from American public life or culture--I'd sure like to know about it. And if there's any time left over, try changing the word "Christian" to the word "Muslim" in a few of the questions and see if the answers are any different.
© 2005 Jeffrey Feldman