Saturday, January 19, 2008


Paranoia Patrol

That bastion of journalistic excellence, the East Valley (Arizona) Tribune has a story on Gary Cass, the "executor (sic) director of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission." Strangely, the article manages never to use his first name.

The treatment befits the topic in some ways. Cass, an alumni of the late D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries, was the head of Kennedy's now defunct Center for Reclaiming America. Kennedy, of course, was the perpetrator of the execrable pseudodocumentary Darwin's Deadly Legacy and was himself a Dominionist, who thought that, as another Kennedy aide put it:

Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
It may be counterintuitive but one of the tools they employ in this effort is the meme that Christians are being marginalized or belittled by the media elite in the world. The example Cass came up with for the article was an episode of NBC's "Law & Order" in which a police detective called Christians "Bible thumpers" (gasp!) in the course of an investigation into death threats by a college minister against a professor in connection with the minister's opposition to homosexuality.

To allow their protagonists to derisively portray Christians as unenlightened, violent and out of step is galling.
This is amusing because, as pointed out by People For the American Way, Cass took Rudy Giuliani to task for thinking of "the story of Jonah as mere allegory." Unenlightened or out-of-step? Perish the thought!

There is even a bit more irony involved because Cass has himself attacked Mitt Romney's "Mormon dollars" and the church's alleged "hostility to Christianity," in furtherance of his support for the candidacy of former "Law & Order" star Fred Thompson.

Cass also decries the recent hate crime legislation as an attempt to "silence us." In fact, that legislation simply tried to extend the jurisdiction of Federal law enforcement agencies to the use of fires, firearms, explosives or incendiary devices to cause bodily injury to any person based on their gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, to go with the same protection afforded to people for their race, color, national origin and religion.

Finally, Cass invokes the specter of Christians being told to "take our values out of the public square;" which are code words for the claim that they have the right to use the power of the state and the tax money of all citizens to promote their brand of religion to the exclusion of all others.

In short, this "persecuted majority" whine is an attempt to position Christians of Cass' ilk as permitted to use any rhetoric and any means against anyone who they don't like, while anyone who dares to disagree or object can be, at the very least, dismissed as bigoted and un-American.

What was that saying about wolves and sheep apparel?

I am really tired of the way American Christians whine about being persecuted. In my more cynical moments, I wonder if they simply are acting out a desire to "share in the sufferings" (from the comfort of their lazy-boy recliners) of fellow-Christians who actually do suffer horribly in other parts of the world. Suffering is a Christian virtue. Therefore, in order for their faith experience to be complete, American Christians must experience it too. Of course, this form of "suffering" denigrates the experiences of those who really are persecuted.

Okay - that's enough cynicism and arm-chair, laptop psychologizing for today.
When it comes to human beings, cynicism is always in order.

I suspect you're right that the frisson of even imaginary persecution helps to make this a successful meme in some circles.
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