There has been this curious meme running about for the last several years that there is a war being waged against Christianity. Let me for the time being confine this feeling to this country (the U.S.) because there are Christians being killed around the globe as part of religious or religion-fueled wars and I don’t want anything from there clouding the issue as it is here.
When I first heard of this phenomenon it was in the form of the bizarre “War on Christmas” floated by Fox (Sic) News organs. Shortly thereafter came the War on Christians and War on Christianity. Whether Fox was the progenitor of both of those I cannot tell, but the meme was certainly taken up by Christian communities and with high dudgeon.
So, where could this have come from? We had many, many years of Culture Wars over abortion, contraception, drugs, crime, racism, and women’s rights but never were these characterized as a War Against Christianity. Why the shift into full-fledged victimhood?
Methinks I may have twigged to the answer.
For many centuries the “godless” and atheists have been publically vilified, especially in this nation’s churches. In our history, states have had laws banning atheists (and, yes, Catholics and Jews and …) from holding political office and special contempt was ladled on scoffing unbelievers. As long as you believed in some god you were closer to “okay” on the social spectrum than abominable atheists. We were called immoral. We were described as being bad parents, bad citizens, and bad people and worse.
Then something changed.
The internet allowed people to make comments without identifying themselves and “lo, it began.” Atheists found community and their voice on the internet and the “New Atheism” was born. It was not born out of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and Dennett as so many claim. Atheists have been writing books for centuries, but that is a one-way form of communication. Books are not part of a conversation. The internet allowed discourse.
So, a number of former friends have been shocked to find out I am an atheist and shocked that I have negative (very negative) opinions of Christianity.
I may be “painting with a broad brush” in my denunciations but I am responding to broad brush denunciations of me and others like me. No exclusion was made for atheists who wouldn’t hard a fly or atheists who didn’t eat babies, so I was included (and am still so) in the denunciations of various Christians in churches and public forums, on TV, and yes, on the internet.
Did they think we would not respond? Did they think we wouldn’t fight back? We didn’t in the past, because calling oneself an atheist would cost one one’s job and a great deal more, possibly even one’s life. Freed from those constraints, Christians are finding out what we really think.
And they think we are making war on them, further proof of their false sense of privilege. Hell of a war when the other side does all of the shooting and the responses are in words alone. You can almost hear the umbrage “How dare they, harrumph!”
Well, you can take your umbrage and place it where the sun doesn’t shine. This “war” is just getting started.