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Offending in More Ways Than One

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Jan. 20th, 2010 | 11:05 pm

A metro poster today gave me offense, primarily because my mind wandered into much more detail than the poster intended, but none-the-less because the poster was misdirected.

The poster was for a charity to support the families of Christians killed in Africa. Now, there are several things about this that bothered me:

1. The isolation of genocide/persecution of Christians is what bothered me first. Persecution of any divergent belief system has been the basis of war and violent crime since the beginning of the formation of human tribes. Today, whether for religion, sexual orientation, race, political affiliation, social class or nationality, people are being killed all over the world every day...often with a blind eye by the public.

Specifically supporting the families of Christians only tells the assailants that we are here to support those joining the fold of the (globally perceived) already over-privileged...because it isn't as much of a travesty if some other hokey religion is ousted.

2. The second thing that confronted me is almost a "they deserved it" mantra, which is of course divergent from the above. Without condoning any kind of genocide, the outcome is pretty much predictable. The religious Westernization of the globe verges on a bend for domination. Chief among the quest is Christianity, which has been striving to "domesticate" the continents since early naval technology and exploration erupted.

On one hand, a person is being killed for being Christian. On another, much larger scale, Christianity is killing a culture (and not one, but thousands) that has existed for millennia. One can argue killing a culture is very much killing the individuals within it. Languages shrivel through Bible study, marriage and relationship customs change, clothing changes, folklore and customs are lost...and ultimately the political and societal systems change to react to new, Western demands.

This death of a culture happens at the hand of the invader, be it Christians specifically, or political foot-soldiers from governments backed by religion-infused conservatism.

My point is merely to say, I don't walk onto the playground with a kick-me sign on my chest. The religious attack on cultures (it is very much an attack, even if thought to be helpful) is bound to be perceived as threatening. If the mass seeks truth, they will look for you. Poaching is not necessary.

3. Lastly, comes an old discussion. Christians are as much the perpetrator as they claim they are the victim. Whether using religion as a free-pass for lynching minorities, beating/killing gays, crying witchcraft among their own flock, or targeting other Christian groups, Christians complaining they are being targeted is casting stones in a glass house.

Don't get me wrong, none of this is to say Christianity or any religion is inherently bad. At its root, religion is a collection of beliefs based on the historical encounters of a group of people. Religion teaches us, primarily, how to be civil amongst ourselves and our neighbors. However, the self-righteousness that comes when religion is turned against another group as a weapon is a common thread across all people/cultures/religions. Singling out Christians on either side of the equation is wrong.

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In closing, this was more of a personal reflection, though due to the nature of the discussion it is likely to garner at least a bit of discussion. I welcome that. One argument I'll avoid right now is the expected, "not all Christians are like that." Yeah, not all Germans were Nazis, not all "Japs" were hell-bent kamikazes and not all Muslims are terrorists...but that doesn't/didn't seem to stop us from using the terms interchangeably.

The funny thing is, had the charity been for non-specific, religion-based genocide in Africa, my feelings toward the campaign would have not even stirred this reaction.

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