Adventures in Othering: Christian Youth Edition

[Content Note:  Religious Supremacy, Othering, Violent Rhetoric]

The other day, Libby Anne shared the following video on her blog:

I highly recommend her examination of the video and how she points out that what most of the youth in the video are talking about is the loss of Christian privilege in the public sector rather than actual persecution.  She raises some excellent points about Christians’ persecution complex and the peril they imagine their religion to be in.  She also points out why a number of those examples of persecution really don’t hold much water.

But I want to focus on the apparent goal of this persecution complex — or at least the video’s intent in fostering that complex.  In the end, as much as this video is about othering those outside of the target audience’s Christian bubble, othering to the point of total dehumanization.  Just to give a couple examples of what I’m talking about, consider the following statement from the video:

In public school, I’m called lesbian or gay for not kissing, or for wanting to save myself for marriage.

On the one hand I’m sympathetic.  I don’t believe that anyone should be made fun of simply because of the choices they make about sex, including choosing to postpone becoming sexually active.  But while the students who made this statement seem to dislike that their choices are being mocked, but offer no comment on the fact that words like “gay” and “lesbian” are being used as terms of derision.  They don’t want to be called gay or lesbian, but they don’t seem to have any problems with the underlying idea behind the insult: that being gay or lesbian — or even being considered gay or lesbian — is a horrible thing.  It seems to me that they’re okay with certain people being mocked or othered just as long as they aren’t the ones being mocked or othered.

Along those lines, I also have to admit that I find myself wondering if they’d have a problem with their classmates calling certain sexually active peers other names and mocking them.

To see another, more direct example of this othering, consider the following statement made later:

People who do not love our god have stolen our country

Notice that?  It’s the Christians’ country.  I guess the rest of us just live here by their benevolent grace.  That or we’re usurpers trying to steal what is rightfully theirs.  This is not the rhetoric of those who love their neighbors.

All of this leads to adversarial, militaristic, and even violent rhetoric.  Do not think that the shortening of “Christ Centered Counter Culture” to “C4″ was unintentional.  The comparison to explosives is very intentional, as is all the talk about war and “taking back the country.”  These are young people (and the adults who encourage them) who are looking for a fight and are trying to whip up their fellow Christians into a desire for that same fight through their false persecution.  They want to other those who are different from them so that they can continue to excuse violence — be it physical, emotional, or spiritual — against them.  Apparently, they figured Jesus was joking when he offered his comments about those who take up  the sword.

So yeah, all this talk about othering and fighting and waging war?  It sounds nothing like the god-man who once spoke of loving your enemies.

Of course, one might also want to consider how this fusion between patriotism and Christianity might be rather idolatrous.  (Hint:  Someone talked about a “city on a hill” long before Ronald Reagan, and I doubt he was talking about the good old U.S.A. at the time.  Especially when you take it in light of the rest of his sermon.)

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