How to deal with bigotry

October 30, 2010

First, watch this:

Now based on the description given my the person who posted this video, I think the point of the video is to convict Evangelical Christians. ‘People like Jesus; they don’t like us.’ And that is our problem. Evangelical Christians tend to do this a lot to ourselves. We get a perception that the world hates us and then we assume that this must be our fault somehow. There are a steady stream of young pastors who are out there trying to invent new ways to “do church” so that people will like us more. If we just serve the poor more, people will like us. If we just don’t talk about politics, people will like us. If we just wear thick rim glasses and have Bible studies in abandoned theaters, people will like us.

I have two things to say about this. The first is that the actual data does not suggest that most people have a negative view of Evangelical Christians. Consider this 2008 poll by Gallup:

We fall somewhere in the middle – above Muslims, Mormons (who doesn’t like Mormons??), Atheists, and Scientologists. So – not everyone is out to get us. Not everyone hates us. Stop with the complex.

Second, there are people out there that do not think much of the church. That cannot be denied. There are people like those in the video that think Evangelical Christians are “psycho”, “uneducated”, “backward”, “overboard”, “extreme”, “fanatical”, “crazy”, “freaky”, “frightening”, “rigid” and otherwise mean and bad.

So….what do we do about those people? Is the solution to try harder? I agree with sociologist Bradley Wright when he notes that “Negative stereotypes of Christians will probably persist regardless of Christians’ actions…” He goes on to note that stereotypes and prejudice and discrimination are not based on reality. Stereotypes are by definition ignorant and not accurate or based on reality. Changing reality (ie being nicer etc) doesn’t change stereotypes.

Further, can you imagine if a person were caught saying the same things about an ethnicity? That “ethnicity x” is “stupid” “scary” etc? Would the right thing for that ethnicity to do be to try harder? Wouldn’t the right thing to do be to call out the bigotry for the ignorant mess that it is?

So in the future, when you hear people say ridiculous things (like Christians are scary), recognize that it is ignorant garbage deserving scorn and correction. Just like all other forms of bigotry.

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