According to Baltimore’s most sage and snarky journalist, the “martyr complex” is a real thing:
“The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy.” ~ H.L. Mencken (1880 – 1956)
If there is a community today with a greater tendency toward this moronic and perpetual self-victimization than evangelical Christianity, I do not know of it. Indeed when it comes to culture-war discussions, American evangelicalism is virtually synonymous with the bizarre and conspiratorial notion that they are under siege and being persecuted from all sides. Whether it’s the secular humanists, the fake news media, or the deep state, conservative Christians in this country sincerely believe that their very way of life is under attack. Just Google “War on Christmas” if you think I am overstating things.
To borrow and tweak a phrase from the Hebrew prophets, they cry “Wolf! Wolf!” when there is no wolf.
Similarly to former president Bush’s insistence that our enemies “hate us for our freedom” (since, you know, 9/11 happened because we’re the only country in the world with cable TV and food courts), likewise many believers would have us believe that we “hate them” because of their Christianity, because of their theology, because of what they believe about Jesus.
Now I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can speak for myself as a Catholish progressive, and to these supposed victims of liberal persecution I would say this: I absolutely do not hate you for your Christian orthodoxy. I’ll concede your Nicene Trinitarianism and homoousios Christology. I won’t begrudge you your Chalcedonian claims about two natures hypostatically united in one divine Person. You can even have the walking on water, the five-loaves-and-two-fishes thing, and the bodily resurrection to boot.
But I do hate your politics.
Please understand, I am not talking minutia here — I am not referring to specifics like the electoral college, or states’ rights, or this or that particular presidential candidate. No, I am talking about a basic posture toward the world and toward the “other,” a posture of mercy.
Yeah you suck at this.
Whether the issue is the humane treatment of the immigrant and stranger or the response to our nation’s poor, America’s Christians can be depended on to turn a blind eye to the caging of innocent asylum seekers and their children, to the victims of sexual assault (if the assault is committed by someone they like), and to a President who lies about everything from the porn stars he slept with and then paid to keep quiet to whether or not the crowd at his inauguration was, like, “the biggest in history, PERIOD.”
And it’s not just sins of omission, either. The fact is that when it comes to racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, the likelihood of overlap between those who espouse these ideas and those who self-identify as Christian and conservative is too significant to ignore. I am not suggesting that all Christian conservatives are racist or sexist, of course, for such a claim is patently false. But I am suggesting that if there is an ideology out there that would appeal to someone who is racist or sexist it is conservatism, and if there is a political party where such views will be not only tolerated but encouraged, it is the GOP.
So by all means, follow Jesus! No hatred for that here! In fact (and ironically), if you American evangelicals were to more closely imitate the Galilean carpenter, there’d be precious little to hate you for.
Except maybe your worship music, because it’s shit. Seriously.