Christians are oppressed!

I saw this graphic on Box Turtle Bulletin and thought it was funny, and made a decent point, but I don’t like the way it erases all religious groups other than Christians and Jews.

Being neurotic, I remade it, based on the statistics given here:

The original is probably a bit funnier, but I couldn’t do all that work1 and not share it.

  1. Okay, it really wasn’t that much work. []
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58 Responses to Christians are oppressed!

  1. 1
    The Britkid says:

    It’s well-done, but it does lose one thing: to my eyes, anyway, the original was positioned so that the slice out of the “Christian” section, being on the side, looked somewhat like a gaping triangular mouth eternally on the verge of swallowing up one of the minority groups. Your version rotates the pie and that effect isn’t quite so apparent. Still, maybe it was just my impression.

  2. 2
    korshi says:

    as a fellow neurotic, i can’t help pointing out that you should label the diagram “religious affiliation in the USA” to avoid being americocentric :)

  3. 3
    curiousgyrl says:

    of course, the bigger problem is that there is no simple correlation between majority/minority status and oppression. (See South African Apartheid, Catholics in Ireland or almost any other colonial situation.)

  4. 4
    MH says:

    I agree with The Britkid, but the second graph also presents the christian slice almost in a domineering way, about to crush the others.

  5. 5
    nojojojo says:

    Ditto Britkid; what I noticed about the first graphic was that it looked like a ravenous Pac-Man. If anything I would’ve changed the color to pale yellow to reflect this.

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  8. 6
    Decnavda says:

    I kinda thought the lack of diversity in the first graph added to the point: It is the way American Christians see religion in their country. There’s us, there are the chosen people who have not yet accepted their savior, there are the secular liberals bent on destroying our nation, and there are other weirdos. The fact that their claims are ridiculous even when looked at from their point of view seems more powerful to me.

  9. 7
    Decnavda says:

    But thanks for those statistics, Amp. I feel strongly that the term “agnostic” best describes my position, but I absolutely LOVE that 12.1% of the population of the U.S. gave an answer that can best be described as “Nothing in Particular”. That should scare the fundis more than the rise of the New Atheists. It means that about one in eight Americans consider religion essentially irrelevant.

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  11. 8
    Jake Squid says:

    And in the area of my own personal fascination, they categorize Mormons under the umbrella of Christianity.

  12. 9
    RonF says:

    Decnavda:

    It is the way American Christians see religion in their country

    I think it’s pretty foolish to attempt to make any statement at all, never mind one as broad as you made, about how over 200 million people in the country view Jews and non-Christians.

  13. 10
    DaisyDeadhead says:

    I take it this is a USA-only map? Because if it’s global, the size of the Christian and Muslim pie-pieces would be about equal.

  14. 11
    Nomen Nescio says:

    it’d be difficult to make a worldwide equivalent of this visual pun, because christianity worldwide can’t be as justifiably accused of the unfounded persecution complex hinted at. christianity in the USA can, although of course it’s still tarring a lot of very different denominations with a single broad brush.

  15. 12
    RonF says:

    DaisyDeadhead:

    “I take it this is a USA-only map? Because if it’s global, the size of the Christian and Muslim pie-pieces would be about equal.”

    Yup. Reminds me of when I was talking to one of our Scouting parents (the one person I’ve met who seems to see a discrepancy between “Catholic” and “Christian”) who thought Scouting was Christian. She was quite taken aback when I told her that there were probably more Moslem Scouts worldwide than there were Christian ones.

    Nomen Nescio:

    it’d be difficult to make a worldwide equivalent of this visual pun, because christianity worldwide can’t be as justifiably accused of the unfounded persecution complex hinted at.

    No. But Islam and Hinduism can in those countries where they form the majority. Generally to a far, far greater extent, at least in the case of Islam.

  16. 13
    Sarah says:

    one of our Scouting parents (the one person I’ve met who seems to see a discrepancy between “Catholic” and “Christian”)

    I am another one. This is on a whole myriad of levels. We can compare this vs. that til we are blue in the face.

    ~Sarah

  17. 14
    idyllicmollusk says:

    Sometimes this visual reminder is needed in conversations with American Christians who believe themselves to be oppressed by what they variously term “secularists”, “humanists”, “secular humanists”, and “atheists”. (I am of course only speaking of Christians who believe this meme.)

    I bump into this with a frequency that used to surprise me. So thanks for a useful tool to get past that mental block!

  18. 15
    MisterMephisto says:

    “secularists”, “humanists”, “secular humanists”, and “atheists”.

    It is often funny to me (in a horrible, black-comedy fashion) that these terms (often with “gays” and “pagans” thrown in for good measure) are now swapped into a lot of the same statements that used to be used during the days of the “Satanic Panic.”

    It’s fascinating (again, in a morbid way) to watch the evolution of an urban myth.

  19. 16
    bonita says:

    How racist it is to lump all Christians together! Christian churches have long been crucial sources of community and support for racial minorities in this country. One example is black churches. In the Northeast particularly, but really everywhere, they are important building blocks for political power. Adam Clayton Powell, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King – Baptist ministers all. Black churches launched and nurtured the civil rights movement, even though white guys (coff coff) like to take the credit.

    Catholic churches, flawed as they may be, were lifelines for the Irish and Italian when they were not considered “white” and do so now for many latina/os.

  20. 17
    Ali says:

    (the one person I’ve met who seems to see a discrepancy between “Catholic” and “Christian”)

    Man RonF, can I go back in time and grow up wherever it is you live? I’ve had more than a handful of people scream in my face (a teenager at the time) that I wasn’t a christian because I happened to mention I was catholic.

    Now I just solve that problem by being an atheist, but YMMV ;)

  21. 18
    PG says:

    But Islam and Hinduism can in those countries where they form the majority.

    The only country of which I know where Hindus are a majority is India, and they were genuinely persecuted for their faith, first by the Muslim invaders and then by British imperialists. Despite the antagonism between Islam and Christianity, when it comes to preferring either a monotheistic Abrahamic faith or a “pagan” polytheistic one, the Brits generally went for the devil they knew (see also the colonial concentration of power in Sudan in the Muslim north and efforts to convert the animist south to Christianity).

    The current Hindu hysteria over conversion — which has led to comedic moments like not allowing a lost tribe of Israel to convert to Judaism while they still were on Indian soil, as well as hundreds of tragic rapes and murders of Christian missionaries and of marginalized converts to Christianity, particularly among the scheduled castes and tribes — is indubitably a persecution complex that has gone way beyond any justification, but I’m not sure one can say it’s wholly unfounded.

  22. 19
    PG says:

    How racist it is to lump all Christians together! Christian churches have long been crucial sources of community and support for racial minorities in this country. One example is black churches. In the Northeast particularly, but really everywhere, they are important building blocks for political power. Adam Clayton Powell, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King – Baptist ministers all. Black churches launched and nurtured the civil rights movement, even though white guys (coff coff) like to take the credit.

    Er, why is it racist to say that black Christians are Christians too? It seems rather racist to say that they’re not. And black Christians have shown themselves just as capable of declaring themselves oppressed by the mostly-secular feminist and gay rights movements as white Christians have. As for the black Christian church as a site of community, support and coalescing political power, that’s all true. Now what about white Christianity as a justification for imperialism in Africa and the old “Ham’s dark son” canard to justify slavery?

  23. 20
    Scotty says:

    I’ve always felt kind of sorry for the evangelicals though- the trademark of their particular brand of Christianity is their disorganizedness, so they can’t get an anti-defamation league rolling like the Catholics or even the Christianesque Mormons can. Then, everytime you see an evangelical on TV… THEY’RE EVIL!!!!

    In my experience, a big chunk of the “We’re being discriminated against” mentality is partially historical, partially cultural (particualarly in the conservatively theological congregations- they see their values being mocked and overreact), and also referring to Christians in other countries like China, Egypt, India, etc. where people really are facing jail time for their faith.

  24. 23
    bipolar2 says:

    ** Sanitize the state, rid us of xian institutions **

    Xians are the oppressors in the US, not the oppressed.

    Get rid of their illegal special status: tax their property, tax their income, de-fund their so-called faith-based initiatives. Then we’ll see how long their pernicious institutions last.

    A secular state ought to unplug itself from forcing us to support liars, pedophiles, politicos . . . who cram their non-existent god and perverse values down our throats.

    Persecution? No, restitution for 225 years of prig morality and unlawful control.

    Crush the infamy.

    bipolar2

  25. 24
    Dave says:

    I’m an atheist, but I hate it when people try to make points about religion who don’t actually understand it. There definitely is a discrepancy between Catholic and Christian… actually that might be misleading, Catholics are Christians, Protestants are Christians but Protestants and Catholics are not the same… just go to Ireland. Either way, it’s all a bunch of ridiculous crap (religion), I just like to know what brand of crap I’m referring to and I think anyone who wants to make a point about religion should know what they’re talking about. Atheists pride themselves on not sharing in religion’s ignorance, I’d like to keep it that way.

  26. 25
    Schala says:

    Atheists pride themselves on not sharing in religion’s ignorance, I’d like to keep it that way.

    To be fair, religion originally wasn’t ignorant. It was a simplistic way of explaining things we didn’t have explanations for, like the Sun, Moon and other celestial bodies, the cycle of day and night, and of seasons, life after death and people’s place in the grand cycle of life (ie their role).

    It quickly became corrupted because it basically had everyone within its grasp and no one to question it (few people could even read, let alone question a god’s edicts).

    Nowadays its fairly unneeded, given science has explained much of what religions sought to since time immemorial. The only things left are: the meaning of life, life after death and people’s roles (most people tend to assume it’s to procreate by default, but not everyone finds comfort in that, even less someone who can’t have children).

    Those aren’t exactly easy to explain, and to say people “become nothingness” after death, doesn’t appeal to me for some reason.

    I don’t think Christians in the US are afraid of Atheists, as much as they are afraid to be forced to become one. The purported unmorality of atheitsts is a fairly easy to refute excuse for that.

    I bet I could find many people who are scared of feminism doing away with gender roles, or “smashing” gender, they think they’d be lost without it.

    Religions should still take a step back and stop controlling people, especially people who never agreed for things their religion specifies but were forced into it. The undue influence the church has on the institution of marriage as recognized by the state. Wars in the name of deities or religions.

    These all need to cease, even if the religion continues to exist as an explanatory phenomena.

  27. 26
    Andrew says:

    the only thing that bugged me about this graph is the misrepresentaion of religous dominance for the world. The graph is totally wrong, unless it is representing the religous minorities of the United States, which it probably is.

    Anyway, just for kicks, herees a link to major world religons by percent
    http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

  28. 27
    Brian says:

    Check out my Atheist / rational thinker store. I keep all of the prices as low as possible through zazzle in order to get as much out there as possible and help spread the word that we’re not going to take this shit anymore. :-) http://www.zazzle.com/briman232*

  29. 28
    Sam says:

    First of all, I would greatly like to point out the irony in this. You’re making fun of Christians, aka oppressing Christians in this very statement. It’s a paradox in itself. Second I would like to bring up the point that there may be numerous people that claim to be Christian, but do you know the average time spent with God each day by the “average Christian”? It’s three minutes. That means there are a lot of people out there that say they are Christian, but don’t practice their faith. Another statistic states that only 38% of Americans are interested in organized religion. In reality, there wouldn’t be that many Christians on this graph. I know of a lot of kids at my school, that you would never know that they were Christians. They don’t pray, they don’t obey the teachings of the bible, they aren’t truly Christians. They say they are, but they don’t have the actions to back it up. Personally, I feel like you are being quite unfair to Christians. I do admit, that oppression of Christianity could be worse, and it truly isn’t bad now in America, but there are places where a human being can be KILLED for being a Christian. Think about that when you hear Christians speak about being oppressed. Perhaps they aren’t talking about THEMSELVES but OTHERS.

  30. 29
    Mandolin says:

    Mocking != oppression. Next try?

  31. 30
    Susan says:

    Mocking != oppression. Next try?

    Well, I don’t think mocking is quite equal to oppression, but I’d note here that the LGBT community often feels that mocking is quite close enough – when you’re mocking them I mean – to be objectionable.

  32. 31
    RonF says:

    Sam, I’d be very interested in how you measure the amount of time someone spends with God each day.

    Mandolin, it seems to me that the left has often considered mocking = oppression when it’s been directed towards particular racial and ethnic groups and homosexuals.

  33. 32
    Mandolin says:

    Didn’t say mocking couldn’t be part of oppression. Sam’s statement was an equation of the two:

    “You’re making fun of Christians, aka oppressing Christians in this very statement.”

  34. 33
    nobody.really says:

    Sam has a point: Any group can be regarded as a majority or a minority depending on how you define the group’s boundaries. Through greater familiarity, Sam may be drawing more discerning distinctions among social groups that I would simply label as “Christians.” After all, Jehovah’s Witnesses have suffered oppression because they decline to say the Pledge of Allegiance or serve in the military, and their self-professed Christianity did not spare them. I suspect the same can be said of various Christian sects.

    Amp’s point is that, to the extent that Christians experience oppression in the US, it almost certainly happens at the hands of other people who self-identify as Christians. For what that’s worth. Which isn’t much. Here’s why:

    Many people – especially people who are not in the upper classes of society – are feeling stress. This stress triggers a fight-or-flight response. Lacking a viable means to flee, people prepare to fight, finding solidarity by rallying with their neighbors to oppose – what? Decades ago these people would have rallied against fluorine in the water, or white slavery, or the international Communist Conspiracy, or uppity Negroes, or the filthy Irish, or whathaveyou. For one night they rallied to fight the Martian invasion reported during the War of the Worlds broadcast. Whatever.

    Today they’re opposing oppression of Christianity. What does “Christianity” mean in this context? It’s just a label that people use to identify themselves and their neighbors who also are feeling stress.

    Meanwhile, other people – especially people in the scapegoat group du jour — feel threatened by all this rallying, the moral panic, the feeling of strident militancy. This triggers their own fight-or-flight response. In this case, many can actually choose flight: they decline to speak up in opposition to the most hysterical voices. But others fight back, ridiculing the sincere but poorly-reasoned arguments being offered.

    Alas, the arguments were not really the source of the rallies; they were merely manifestations of stress. No matter how well reasoned, the ridicule merely adds to the stress, feeding the sense of persecution.

    Sam sees this post and – guess what? – it increases his stress. He feels ridiculed. He feels attacked. It vindicates his sense of persecution.

    Reason has nothin’ to do with people’s reactions here. We need to find ways to reduce people’s stress. And, perversely, we may need to implement those measures in the face of the active opposition of those who might benefit most.

    Friends, neighbors, countrymen — we need to rally to wage aggressive paternalism! And we need it now!

  35. 34
    RonF says:

    It’s true that Christians who feel oppressed are likely suffering that at the hands of other people who profess themselves Christians. But that doesn’t invalidate the concept that they may be right.

  36. 35
    Ampersand says:

    FWIW, what I was thinking of when I remade the cartoon was the “war on Christmas.” I don’t think that’s a case of Christians being oppressed, by anyone.

  37. 36
    Jake Squid says:

    I tend to think of oppression as meaning pretty much what the various dictionaries define it as.

    the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner

    I don’t think that mocking, on its own, rises to that level. Nor do I think that what is being called, in this thread, oppression of xtians by other xtians in the US normally rises to that level.

  38. 37
    Susan says:

    Whether mockery of a person or a group is or is not “oppression,” can we agree that it’s ill-mannered?

    Last week I was driving around with my youngest and one of her friends. These young women are in their late 20′s, old enough to know better. They’re also both lesbians, which is irrelevant except that it gave me a handle on the situation.

    They started mocking Christianity (in general, not any particular sect) and making some pretty rough jokes. I didn’t feel “oppressed” (hardly!) but I certainly felt insulted. Noticing my silence at last, my daughter pulled her head out of whatever hole it had been in and said, “Oh, did we offend you? We were just joking.”

    I said, “you know girls, there are any number of ‘jokes’ that I could make which would seriously offend the both of you, rightly so, probably to the point that you’d insist I stop the car and let you out, and I could say, oh, just joking ha ha. Does that cut it?” Luckily they’re both intelligent and sensitive enough to get the point, and to apologize.

    I think our collective discourse will be clearer and more likely to be productive if we can insofar as possible stay away from mocking other people, for whatever reason. Surely we can express opposition to various actions or positions without calling names.

  39. 38
    Mandolin says:

    Manners aren’t everything. Satire is a useful political tool. I’m not going to say Jonathan Swift should avoid having written canonical essays because it muddies the discourse.

  40. 39
    Susan says:

    Manners aren’t everything.

    Duly noted.

  41. 40
    Mandolin says:

    Any reaction to the rest of it, or are you throwing satire out with the dishwater?

  42. 41
    Susan says:

    My only observation was that mocking other people for their being or for their beliefs is usually not productive of useful discourse, and is a violation of good manners into the bargain, whether I am mocking them for their religious beliefs or for their sexual orientation or for their political stance. Or their hairstyle. Whatever. Mockery cuts, it hurts, and is intended to hurt and to cut. It doesn’t convert, it makes enemies.

    Satire? Depends. I am not Jonathan Swift, nor was I his target. It was a long time ago, and I have trouble putting myself in either his position or the position of his targets.

    Your position, according to this post, seems to be that good manners are expendable. It isn’t mine, so we’ll have to disagree on that one.

    I don’t always succeed in showing good manners. Hardly! But when I fail I am ashamed of myself. Your mileage may differ.

  43. 42
    Bear says:

    Mocking someone’s religion might be considered ill-mannered*. Changing the discourse from “Mocking=oppression” to “Mocking is rude” seems to me to be moving the goalposts.

    * I don’t agree that all belief-mocking is ill-mannered. Mocking a creationist who rejects scientific fact because it contradicts their belief is not only justified but the moral thing to do. So is mocking those who promote ex-gay scams. So is mocking those who literally believe Noah filled a boat with animals to avoid a flood. Some religious beliefs deserve mocking.

  44. 43
    lauren says:

    There is a pretty big difference between mocking christians for their religious believes- making fun of them for believing in Jesus, for example- and mocking those christians who claim that they are being oppressed by people saying “happy holidays” or when someone opposes daily prayer in a state school or when people say “your religion does not give you the right to bully LGTB people”.

    Mockink religious believes is very problematic. Making fun of people who willfully ignore the fact that their religion is extremely privileged, who think that their religion should be privileged even more- that is not only not an act of oppression, it is an act of fighting against oppression.

  45. 44
    chingona says:

    Mocking can be rude without being oppressive.

    That said …

    Not only do I fail to see how this post oppresses Christians, I’m not even sure how it mocks them. In what way does this post mock Christians?

  46. 45
    Jake Squid says:

    Chingona,

    Sam thinks that the title of the post mocks Christians.

  47. 46
    Mandolin says:

    Rudeness is so very contingent. It is considered rude in many situations not to make a sexist remark but to ask someone else not to because it’s making a fuss.

    Good manners are so very contingent. It is not good manners to sit at a lunch counter when one has been asked not to.

    Mocking things–even deeply held beliefs!–can be very important.

    SPIEGEL: So there are limits to humor?

    Brooks: Definitely. In 1974, I produced the western parody “Blazing Saddles,” in which the word “nigger” was used constantly. But I would never have thought of the idea of showing how a black was lynched. It’s only funny when he escapes getting sent to the gallows. You can laugh at Hitler because you can cut him down to normal size.

    SPIEGEL: Can you also get your revenge on him by using comedy?

    Brooks: Yes, absolutely. Of course it is impossible to take revenge for 6 million murdered Jews. But by using the medium of comedy, we can try to rob Hitler of his posthumous power and myths.

    Many branches of Christianity preach that because I disagree with them, I deserve eternal torture. Is that rude? Is it rude of them to say? Is it worse manners for me to point out that their god concept is logically incoherent, a bit silly, and accepting of cruelty while pretending a moral high ground?

    Blerf.

  48. 47
    chingona says:

    It mocks Christians who think they are oppressed. That’s not mocking Christians as a class or Christian beliefs (in the theological, rather than social, sense).

    I’m a middle-class white person. If the post said “Middle-class white people are oppressed!” that wouldn’t oppress me or mock me. It would mock white people who think that white people are now oppressed worse than black people. But it wouldn’t oppress them.

    Like you said … words … they mean things.

  49. 48
    Hershele Ostropoler says:

    I think the targets of the mockery are not “Christians, however defined” but “people who insist that an expressly pluralistic society acknowledge the primacy of their beliefs and traditions.” It’s unreasonable to ask people to stop being Christians but perfectly reasonable to ask them to stop being silly.

  50. 49
    Mandolin says:

    I have no need to ask them to stop being Christians. Jeff and Myca are Christians. I think it’s a little weird, but kudos to human variety.

    However, where beliefs counter fact, or become noxious, I have no obligation not to mock those beliefs. If it’s someone’s personal, idiosyncratic belief (my father is haunting my car’s electrical system) then I would probably avoid mocking it because I generally don’t dig mocking individuals in that way, complications aside. But I have no issues with mocking organized religion or beliefs stemming from organized religion such as young earth creationism.

    Effectively, I don’t believe religion is sacred. :-P

    Although, that said, I guess my specific annoyances basically track with Hershele’s… my desire to mock the concept that Jesus died for our sins is basically proportionate to the cultural pressure on me to accept that belief, the cultural insinuation that I am a bad person if I don’t, and the cultural pressures on society to be structured as if the belief is true.

  51. 50
    Hershele Ostropoler says:

    Someone who claims the existence of pedestrians is oppressive because of that haunted electrical system is mockworthy in a country in which there are entire communities with no sidewalks.

  52. 51
    Myca says:

    Jeff and Myca are Christians.

    Nuh-uh. I’m religious, in that I attend a Unitarian-Universalist (UU) church, but I’m not Christian, or even a theist.

    Heck, the UUs themselves have their origins in not one but two separate heresies, so even when they were at their most Christian, I doubt most Christians would have let them into the club.

    —Myca

  53. 52
    nobody.really says:

    If it’s someone’s personal, idiosyncratic belief (my father is haunting my car’s electrical system) then I would probably avoid mocking it because I generally don’t dig mocking individuals in that way, complications aside. But I have no issues with mocking organized religion….

    Fine, mock organized religion – what’s it to you?

    But after you’ve replaced the battery, and the alternator, and the plugs, and the starter motor, and the entire fuckin’ wiring harness so that now every mechanic tells you that there is no earthly reason why your old man’s car shouldn’t start – and still it won’t! — I can see how you might grow more circumspect….

  54. 53
    Mandolin says:

    I didn’t mean to imply you were a theist. (I was mostly trying to discursively flip religion & non-religion so as to claim normative status for non-theism… just for kicks. And I figured you & Jeff are pretty relaxed about these things and wouldn’t mind; certainly, no disrespect was intended.)

    Anyway, Jeff’s UU, too. I was under the impression it was a Christian denomination with a big dose of “whatever you want, we’re not fussy.” One can be both a reform Jew and a non-theist. I’ve also been poked before for saying UU was not Christian.

    So, anyway, that’s what I was thinking. But you’re obviously, you know, actually UU, so I bow to your rightness and apologize for my ignorance.

  55. 54
    Myca says:

    No, no. No apologies needed at all The UUs are sort of a weird case. Lots of us are Christian. Some are Pagan. Some are Buddhist. Some are humanist, like me. The mistake is perfectly natural. :)

  56. 55
    chingona says:

    I once heard Unitarianism referred to as “The Great Jewish Religion.” My impression was that it evolved out of Christianity, but rejects the trinity (hence unitarian), which is a heresy. But I know quite a large number of people with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers from the time before Reform Judaism started accepting patrilineal descent who were raised Unitarian. They often grew up in places where not attending church at all would have made you a target, so being Unitarian was a way to be something and something that wasn’t actually Christian but seemed kind of Christian to outsiders and not get hassled. (Speaking of who’s oppressed and who isn’t.)

    The official position of the URJ is that Reform Judaism is theistic, and they have rejected membership applications from humanist congregations. But it’s not that hard to find people in most of the non-orthodox denominations practicing Judaism without being particularly theistic.