If you ask people to list other words that they associate with the word “Christian” then those that embrace some variation of Christianity might suggest terms such as “Love”, “Compassion”, “Tolerance”, etc… However, ask those that are not inside the bubble and you will at times find a rather different list that includes terms such as “Bigot”, “Obnoxious”, “Intolerant, etc… Expressions of “Love”, “Compassion” and “Tolerance” do of course manifest, both inside and also outside such communities. The problem within is that there is sometimes a boundary that runs dry the moment you dare to either disbelieve and simply resist the idea of a specific variation of belief being imposed upon you.
The persecution of the Pensacola Cross Lawyer
First a bit of background for you.
Not too long ago the American Humanist Association took up the case of a government sponsored giant cross in Pensacola, Fl. The issue is not the cross as such, but rather the fact that it was being paid for and maintained by public money. A rather fundamental constitutional principle is the neutrality of government – no public funds should ever be utilised to favour or endorse one specific variation of belief. If the cross had been on church property or simply private property and was not funded by the state, then its existence is not a problem. The issue was that it was on city property and was being paid for and maintained by the city, so it broke the law. The Conservative Reagan-appointed judge agreed, the law is the law, and so he ruled that the cross must come down. You can read more about the specifics of this case here on Hemant’s blog.
The response to this ruling has been a campaign of hatred and harassment that has specifically targeted the lawyer, Monica Miller, who represented the American Humanist association.
Take for example this Facebook posting.. A chap named Lou Cobb has posted her picture, her phone number (which luckily is just the AHA public switchboard), and suggests that people should proceed to harass her and run her out of town …
Note that it has been shared over 9000 times, so this is not simply one lone nutter, but instead is an example of the reality of Christian “Love” and “Tolerance” being endorsed quite literally by thousands.
Some of the comments under this posting and the associated shares are even worse.
Ms Miller Responds
When asked about her thoughts on all of this by Hemant, Ms Miller retained her professionalism with the following statement…
Although I’ve been the latest target of angry Christians who are upset with the law, which forbids a city from promoting their religious symbol, I have also received an outpouring of support from Christians and Atheists alike who understand the importance of separation of church and state.
My job is to enforce compliance with the First Amendment and that’s what I did. Even Reagan-appointed Judge Vinson understood that this cross is a plain violation of the First Amendment.
A few Further Thoughts
Intolerance, discrimination, expressions of hatred, and calls for violence all happen – Christian persecution is quite real. Unfortunately within the US it is the Christians that generally are the ones that are doing the persecuting.
Are all Christians like this?
No, but unfortunately way too many of them are.
The thinking within many strands of Evangelical belief is that you can have a new heart, have all your sins washed away, and guidance from Jesus to help make you a far better person. A common term used is “Born Again”. If indeed the claim was true then the lives of those who are supposedly transformed like this should be measurably far better. Claimed attributes such as “Love”, “Tolerance” and “Compassion” should prevail.
Regardless of their belief or non-belief, most humans strive to do what is right and to lead decent lives. The complexity in the mix here is that decent people are being psychologically tricked and manipulated into behaving in an abysmal manner. The Cross is a symbol and so an insistence that the state needs to remain neutral, hence the cross needs to go, is perceived to be a direct attack by dark forces. This motivates Lou and others to view “Running this Lawyer out of town” as a way to defend goodness against evil. Deep inside he quite sincerely believes that he is doing what is right, and is quite oblivious to the fact that he is in reality being both obnoxious and also absurdly intolerant.
There are of course Christians who do manifest “Love”, “Tolerance”, and “Compassion”, but this is not because they adhere to a specific belief, but rather because they are human. These are universal attributes that transcend any and all beliefs. The potential resides with most of us to manifest such attributes, not by believing specific things, but instead by simply resolving to be a decent human being.