Lately the term “Christian minority” has been floating out of the mouths of politicians and political pundits alike. The term refers to Christians who oppose homosexuality and who are subsequently labeled as bigots because of it. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) at a Tea Party conference last year noted, “The greatest minority under assault today are Christians.” Recently, CNN published an article, “When Christians Become the Hated Minority,” where writer John Blake quotes the identification by Peter Spriggs, spokesman for The Family Research Council, of a new victim: Christians who believe the Bible condemns homosexuality but are afraid to voice this belief for fear of public backlash.
Is there any truth to the “Christian minority” label? I argue that it is a myth.
The label “minority” is not used in numerical terms to refer to the amount of people who hold these beliefs but instead refer to the victimization and the condemnation of those voices that hold the belief that God condemns homosexuality. Members of the “Christian minority” reference this fact by noting that when NBA player Jason Collins recently announced he was gay, he was praised, but when ESPN reporter Chris Broussard announced his theological views about Jason’s “lifestyle,” Broussard’s perspective was largely publicly condemned. My issue with the implications of oppression associated with a “Christian minority” label is that the title carries a claim of persecution and victimization, which is not only exaggerated but also misleading.
Let’s face it: None of the members of the “Christian minority” are committing suicide for fear of being outed, bullied or rejected by society or their loved ones. They are not denied federal benefits granted to others. They do not have to make announcements (most often not once, but again and again) about their sexuality to family, friends or the general public. They are allowed to marry the person they love in the state they live in. If people see their relationships on TV, they do not describe their affection as disgusting. “Christian minorities” can walk down the street and embrace their partners without fear of being attacked. They can also sit on National TV and condemn others for what is done in the privacy of the bedroom with the belief that their own sexual lives are sanctified by God. Even while some “Christian minorities” admit of having unfounded fear they may lose their jobs over their unexpressed religious beliefs, in 29 states you can be fired for being gay. That is a reality and the law. This doesn’t sound like persecution of the “Christian minority” to me but more like beneficiaries of social privilege.
What makes the use of the term “Christian minority” so odd is the simultaneous presence of other religious groups whose faith traditions do not agree with homosexuality. However, these groups are not labeled as bigots. Why not? Well, it is all about how you say things and what you say. One of the reasons people are up in arms about the “Christian minority’s” claims is because of the arrogance and damnable public rhetoric it comes in. It is loud, bold, judgmental and peppered with a self-righteous fire and brimstone theme that can be easily recognized for what it is no matter how much it is followed by phrases such as “God loves the sinner, but hate the sin.”
Take for example again Chris Broussard’s view that homosexuals are not only in open rebellion to God but that one who proclaims to be homosexual is not a Christian. That is not only a pretty bold and untrue claim (one that a seminary course in biblical scholarship and sexuality, not to mention a man in the mirror moment of humility, would challenge him not to state so literally), but it places the “Christian minority” in the hallowed position of being one who with certainty knows what God likes, who is “God like,” and who is and is not on God’s team. If bigotry is intolerance, than this indeed is it. It is hatred wrapped in the name of God and expressed as religious belief.
Lastly, we must be careful with the term “Christian minority.” The term seems to imply that all Christians hold this view but are just afraid to say it for fear of persecution. But not all Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin. Not all Christians believe those who practice homosexuality are not really Christians. Instead, members of the “Christian minority” seem to hold conservative and/or certain fundamentalist or literal views that may be different from how other Christians interpret the Bible and God’s nature.
Remember, once again, that this term “minority” does not refer to the amount of people who hold such views but for the persecution they face for their views. I believe what is being called victimization of the “Christian minority” is really a challenge to their outspoken religious views. People are critically challenging the popular Christian faith as opposed to blindly accepting the words of pastors and popular culture figures such as sports writers as truth just because passages of the Bible support their claims. I think this is a good thing.
Nothing is more exciting in these times than the emergence of critical thinking, Socratic dialogue, and rational objections to traditional or popular theological and political rhetoric within the political process. Those of us who value these things have been in the proverbial closet for too long.