Statistics tell the truth; there is no “war on Christians” 2

In the wake of the Nevada graduation speech  tempest, rightwing pundits, like Sean Hannity, are once again declaiming there is a “war on Christianity.”  It’s just a lot of hot air.

Christians run afoul of the Constitution and the legal system, not because they are some kind of special group, but because they are simply the loudest and most obtrusive group. In other words, it’s the squeaky wheel  that gets the oil.

Suppose we take a sample of 100 individuals representative of the US population. According to the statistics at this site, of that sample, there would be 84 Christians, two Jews, two Muslims and one Buddhist. The rest would presumably be “other,” Hindus, wiccans, pagans, atheists and what have you.

Of the Christians, we could expect 52 to be Protestant, 24 to be Catholic and 2 to be Mormons. I’m not sure where eastern Orthodox would fit in.

Now, let’s analyze this population sample. Of these 100 individuals, who would be most likely to proselytize, insist their religious practices should be public events, and demand their beliefs achieve primacy in US law and US schools.

The Buddhist? Nope. Buddhists are pretty mellow. Ditto Hindus, if you make the possible exception of the Hare Krishnas.

Muslims, with the exception of the Nation of Islam, do not typically proselytize among non-believers, at least in the US. Given current global politics, trying to win converts to Islam would be unwise, to say the least. Nor do they insist that their children’s public schools call off school lunches during Ramadan.

Jews are also among the non-proselytizing faiths. Those two in our sample might absent themselves from work or school during High Holy Days, but Jews do not demand schools and government offices close for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

What about our two Mormons? In many towns, young Mormon men spend a year or two as “elders,” essentially missionaries and all-around helpers for the local Latter Day Saint churches. In my experience, these fellows are among the most polite and gentle souls among us. They are hardly firebrands, threatening fire and brimstone among the gentiles.

Catholics, being in the minority in many towns, tend to avoid proselytizing, which is not to say Catholic missions and children’s homes don’t try to win a few souls over. When you see persons walking around your neighborhood, carrying Bibles and asking for a few moments of your time, they are not Catholic.

So, we are left with the largest group, almost half of our sample, the Protestants. We can get a better picture of these folks using this set of demographic data: about 17 would be Baptist, 8 Methodist, five Lutheran, three Presbyterian, two Pentecostal/Charismatic, two  Episcopalian, and the remaining split up among the Church of Christ/Congregational, United Church of Christ, Jehovah’s Witness, Assembly of God, and yet smaller groups.

OK, let’s ignore the so-called “lukewarm,” mainstream congregations. Out of the 100, we are left with 17 Baptists, two Pentecostals and maybe one Assembly of God member, all of whom could be fairly characterized as belonging to proselytizing faiths. In fact, the noisiest televangelists tend to be from one of these three groups.

That’s 20 individuals out of 100. For the purpose of argument, let’s assume five of them — one quarter — have the “fire” and want to preach their faith, witness to others, give inflammatory graduation speeches, and run for office on the “family” platform.

These are the ones who are going to run afoul of the legal system. And they are the ones who are basically asking for it.

Let’s face it, if you’re are going to witness for your faith, you should expect some flack. The prophets in the OT had a hard time, and we know what happened to Jesus and all those Catholic martyrs. So this whole meme about the “war on Christians” or the “war on religion” is just a lot of humbug.

If you’re going to be a soldier for your faith, take the abuse, withstand the wounds and quit your bellyaching. We in the other 95% of the population have other things to worry about.

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2 thoughts on “Statistics tell the truth; there is no “war on Christians”

  1. Reply Liz Muir Jun 29,2006 12:33 am

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. I think you may have missed the point though: most of the concern here is not about people who proselyte in appropriate ways, but about where the line between personal expression of beliefs and proselyting lies. As a Mormon, of course I believe in proselyting, but I also believe that we should be allowed to talk about religious matters in school without fear of legal ramifications (see my blog for details). It’s all about the balance between proselyting and personal expression, which some of us feel has gone too far in the direction of protecting the public.

  2. Reply wheatdogg Jun 30,2006 5:00 pm

    Well, to an extent I agree with you. We seem to be oversensitive. There is a fine line, however, between talking about one’s faith and insisting that others adhere to it. Brittany’s valedictory, for example, could have been just as effective without making the crucifixion a central theme. For her, it may be central to her faith, but given the venue, it’s a revelation that might have been saved for a church meeting.

    We presume a public school or any other public institution now to be religion-neutral. In other words, a school can teach about religion if it chooses, but it cannot teach a single religion, excluding all others. There are Christians who may not believe that Christ’s dying on the cross washes away our sins. Thus, Brittany’s reference to it, as a speaker selected to speak at a public school at a public assembly, could be construed as the school supporting one particular faith or theology.

    I agree with many who have commented on this speech that the board went too far in editing out her religious references. One can talk about God and His importance in your life without making specific reference to a certain theology. As a member of the LDS church, you might be offended, for example, if a speaker suggested Mormons were not Christian. (I hear that around here sometimes.)

    No one is suggesting that people cannot profess their faith at all. We just need to aware that government-supported institutions should not be seen as favoring one faith over another.

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