Earlier this year, during National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," Andrei Codresci told of being given a pamphlet in New Orleans which quoted scripture from Thessalonians 4:16-17 on the rapture. Codresci commented, "The evaporation of 4 million who believe in this crap would leave the world a better place." NPR issued an apology for "an inappropriate attempt at humor."
During May, the Village Voice, the voice of New York's elite and other neurotics, ran a classified ad for vocalists: "Must be dedicated, creative, not afraid to offend everyone and anyone, NO CHRISTIANS." When the Catholic League called to place the same ad with "NO GAYS" substituted, it was met with icy rebuff.Episcopalian Bishop Wayne Righter's new book, "A Pilgrim's Way: The Personal Story of the Episcopal Bishop Charged with Heresy for Ordaining a Gay Man Who Was in a Committed Relationship," offers spiritually moving anecdotes such as why Robert Williams, whose greatest divine insight was that Mother Teresa would be more effective "if she got laid," was ordained an Episcopalian minister. The book has merry prankster stories such as wife Nancy Righter's fun habit of giving friends "condoms from the GMHC." GMHC is the Gay Men's Health Crisis.
Terrence McNally is enjoying support for his new NEA-caliber play, "Corpus Christi." This is a light-hearted piece in which Christ has sex with his apostles - all done in good taste, off stage. When concerns about content were raised, Frank Rich of the New York Times referred to the Christians who raised them and threatened picketing as "thugs."
Call for the death of Christians on national radio and a short apology gets you off the hook, but a chihuahua uses the phrase "Yo quiero Taco Bell," in an ad and boycotts for racism rear their ugly head. Make a mockery of Christ and those who complain are thugs. But give a speech, as Reggie White did, expressing your religious views on homosexuality, and you'll lose your job as a sportscaster.
There is not just a disdain for Christians, there is disparate treatment. Imagine a Christian writer releasing a play in which Oscar Wilde is depicted as a married man in the suburbs with children, yard tools and a Weber grill who masked himself as a homosexual in order to sell his writings. Cries of heresy would out-honk Broadway's taxis.
Beyond "thugs," the media have developed a list of synonyms and adjectives for Christians which can be used in any combination: "backward," "bigot," "homophobic," "scary," "religious right," "extremist," and "red neck." The annual "Faith in a Box" report concluded that 78.9 percent of the portrayals of Christians and religion on television are portraits of "ignorance or repression."
Christians are laughable anti-intellectual lugs - sheep with Gomer Pyle mannerisms. This characterization is puzzling. The Romans fed Christians to the lions because they were idiots? The Romans surely understood that idiots pretty much "extinct" themselves. Witness the impact of social diseases on the promiscuous. No, there is something more about Christianity that brings out the devil in its enemies.
The labels and inequality in outrage arise because Christianity is mystifyingly and resiliently defiant and powerful. In the electoral wars, Christians are the foot soldiers who mete out defeat with regularity. Christians are mobilized and motivated voters. Earlier this year, Maine's ballot initiative on gay rights was defeated despite contrary polls and unprecedented spending by gay rights groups. The defeat was at the hands and feet of Christian voters. Gay leaders cried "foul" because social conservatives voted in record numbers.
Oh, the horror of oppression when citizens vote!
Despite its omission from history courses and texts in public schools, Christianity is at the heart of this nation's founding and government. The Mayflower Compact states that the purpose of colonization was "the advancement of the Christian faith." John Adams wrote that our Constitution was made "for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."
Benjamin Franklin observed during the debates on formation of our government that "without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel."
Those who mock ignore the moral courage required of the faithful when ridicule is much easier and so popular. They are unaware of the prayers offered on their behalf by the very souls they ridicule. They lack the discernment to spot the tear that comes to the corner of the Christian eye when reading about a play like "Corpus Christi."
At the heart of their ridicule is fear of the historical power of Christianity, but also a profound unfamiliarity with faith. Faith, to paraphrase Emily Dickinson, "is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words. And never stops at all, and sweetest in the gale is heard; and sore must be the storm, that could abash the little bird that kept so many warm."
Ridicule on, sad critics, for faith remains ever buoyant amid sad mockery.