While the behavior of today’s Christians little resembles the ascetic lifestyle lived and preached by Jesus of Nazareth, this has not prevented many of them from eagerly mounting themselves on a cross from which they loudly lament their persecution. Whereas in the past it was necessary to be crucified, fed to the lions, imprisoned, or subjected to some other truly injurious punishment, the entrance requirements for joining the ranks of the persecuted have now been greatly relaxed. Today, it is only necessary to be made to feel embarrassed about one’s anti-gay views. For these modern day St. Stephens, verbal shaming is the new stoning.
To hear the opponents of marriage equality tell it, they — not the gay people who have been erstwhile targets of their vitriol — are the real victims. Peter Sprigg, a Senior Fellow at the anti-gay Family Research Council, explained the plight of good Christian folk, telling CNN’s Belief Blog that when he gives speeches denouncing homosexuality because the Bible forbids it, no Christians defend him. “But after it is over,” he rued, “they will come over to talk to me and whisper in my ear, ‘I agree with everything you said.’"
Sprigg further explained, “The media will hail someone who comes out of the closet as gay, but someone who simply expresses their personal religious views about homosexual conduct is attacked.”
After the Supreme Court struck dealt a blow to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 on Wednesday, reactions from the religious right were fervid and crazed, suggesting Christian conservatives feel their very livelihoods are imperiled. Indeed, one conservative tells us the dubious direction this is all heading:
The Supreme Court virtually declared an open season on those with whom the 5-4 majority disagree.
We are no longer relevant. What we think no longer counts. We are, after all, bigots who only want to demean homosexuals.
So when does the persecution begin?
When are we stripped of our citizen status, the right to vote, the right to bear arms and other constitutionally guaranteed liberties? Isn’t that next?
From time immemorial, religious fundamentalists have spent enormous amounts of time denouncing gay people as sinners, deviants, and threats to morality and even society itself. Now that their antiquated view of morality is being rejected, Christian conservatives not only see the development of an increasingly tolerant culture as a personal affront to their worldview, but internalize it as a threat to their existence. Hence, their exuberant sense of victimhood.
The cries of “Persecution!” will only increase as more states legalize gay marriage and public opinion tips even more heavily in favor of equality than it does now. Try as they might, the Christian fundamentalists will not get the nation to join their pity party. While Americans' attention spans and memories are short, no amount of whining will succeed in making them forget the immense harm the religious right did to their gay countrymen and countrywomen.