Kicking Against the Pricks
|A few years ago I wrote an article for a magazine in Tennessee on the controversy over displaying the Ten Commandments in courthouses. In preparing for the piece, I spoke with a few County Commissioners in the Knoxville area, as well as with several pastors, with an ACLU lawyer in Kentucky and with an atheistic professor at the University of Tennessee. |
Ultimately the article wasn’t used due to some editorial shifts at the magazine. Nonetheless, several things struck me as interesting while doing these interviews. One was that all the Christians I spoke with were suspicious as hell. The pastors were afraid to go on the record with comments, and, in fact, it took me probably a couple of dozen phone calls to find four or five willing to speak their minds. The County Commissioners supporting a resolution to place the Ten Commandments inside court rooms were rude and belligerent. In contrast, the lawyer for the ACLU, the atheist and the County Commissioners opposed to displaying the Commandments were friendly, warm and eager to help. They returned my calls and answered my emails.
Christians, it seems, at least ultra-conservative ones from the Bible belt, are terrified. They’re scared of the media, of change, of secularism, of what they perceive to be a gradual worsening of society. Because of that, they tend to insulate themselves. Whoever does not agree with us must be out to get us. They are out to strip away everything that we hold sacred, to steal our Bibles and piss on them, to force our children to watch gay porn at knifepoint and then sodomise them, and to force weeping mothers everywhere to have abortions while the doctors smear themselves with blood and sacrifice the foetuses to Satan.
I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s a lack of education or an unwillingness to question those in authority. But this self-absorbed fear is itself very scary.
The other thing that strikes me, in remembering that, is the way in which Christians tend to demonise people and organisations they know little, if nothing, about. The American Civil Liberties Union is a perfect example. Many conservative Christians fear that the ACLU is out to get them. They feel that the ACLU is willing to help people discriminate against Christianity, while other belief systems are championed. Thus, the Bible is forbidden, school prayer is forbidden. But if a student wanted to read the Koran, Marx, anything but the Christian Bible, that would not only be permitted, but encouraged.
The problem, at least with demonising the ACLU, is that the organisation has defended Christians on numerous occasions. So if the ACLU is run by Satan himself, as many Christians seem to insinuate, how do we explain the ACLU of Nevada defending the right of street preachers to preach to people on the sidewalks of Las Vegas?
How do we explain the ACLU of Indiana filing suit on behalf of Pastor John Lewis to get the police to stop harassing him for his street preaching?
How do we explain the ACLU of Washington representing minister Donald Ausderau in a case against the Spokane Transit Authority, ultimately allowing Ausderau to speak, perform and hand out literature at a “central gathering place?”
Or how about the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, which filed briefs in 2002 to defend the rights of students in Davenport public schools to hand out religious literature to their classmates?
Or the ACLU of Massachusetts fighting in Federal district court on behalf of high school students who were disciplined for handing out candy canes with religious messages attached to them?
Or the ACLU in Michigan, which intervened on behalf of a Christian high school valedictorian when the school forbade her from using a Bible verse in her school’s yearbook profile?
Or how about the ACLU defending Jerry Falwell himself?
Or the ACLU of Nebraska defending a Presbyterian church in danger of being evicted?
And there are plenty more examples of the ACLU defending Christians.
So why do conservative Christians gnash their teeth against the ACLU? Is it because they haven’t bothered to spend five minutes using Google? Is it because they believe everything they’re told by those in authority over them? Or are Christians just really good at both lying and believing lies, to the point that those lies have become truth in their minds?