Thursday, January 19, 2012

Speak Up or Shut Up

Members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.
You're not all like that.
We're all familiar with NALTs - you know, those religious folk who are hasty to assure us "But we're not all like that!" any time someone criticizes religious assholery.  Those of us who frequent in these sorts of critiques are well conditioned to expect responses full of sputtering indignation; it's almost second nature now to add the notthatallChristians/Muslims/Jewsarelikethat disclaimer to any censure of a religious figure, for fear of offending the nice religious people by de-facto grouping them with their not-so-nice fellows.

The fact is that the number of nice religious people far outweighs the number of religious douchebags.  Chances are, if you're a religious person, you're one of the NALTs - maybe you support equality for gays and women, or you're in favor of good science education, or you value the separation of church and state, or at the very least you behave with respect toward people who are different than you.  This video has been circulating recently, reflecting Christians trying to express their faith without being associated with all the nasty press Christianity has been receiving lately.

But you know what?  Time for you to shut up already.  I'm sick of the whining that those particular religious assholes don't speak for you, that those appalling beliefs don't represent your faith.  I don't care.

Why?  You enjoy the same privileges of social majority, political power, and cultural irreproachability that allows those jerks to get away with booing a high-schooler speaking out for the constitutional separation of church and state.

Or threatening to expel a student for posting a cartoon of Mohammed.

Or spouting sexist and homophobic douchebaggery.

Or threatening the lives and safety of people who dare to question the legitimacy of your beliefs.

You benefit from their grasp on hegemony.  Non-religious folks make up around 15% of the US population, and we have exactly no congresspeople representing non-religious interests.  Zero.  None.  Practically speaking, we have no political power.

You do.  You're the majority.  You have the votes, and you have the voices.  You are on the hook for the horrific behavior committed in the name of your religion - not Pat Robertson, not Mark Driscoll, you. The NALTs.  Your silence is tacit approval - you allow it to continue, and you are responsible for stopping it.

So the next time a Christian community bullies a high-school kid into fleeing, and some atheist pisses you off by frothing at the mouth about how Christianity is evil, don't tell us you're not all like that.  Tell the Bastrop High School board.  Tell the Cranston, R.I. community.  Tell Focus on the Family.  Tell the fucking Pope.

You have a responsibility to speak up when these idiots misrepresent your faith by attacking and harming others.  But not to those of us who speak out against those attacks - to the people perpetrating them.  Why are you allowing the shouts of those few to drown you out?  Where are your voices?  Where's the outcry from your community at these injustices committed on your behalf?

Until you start to fight against the right people, you're complicit in their crimes.  And I'm no longer going to care about throwing you into the fire right along with them.

1 comment:

  1. Secularists should encourage the spread of the METAMEME. It blocks the growth of violent, intimidating, dogmatic religions, in the same way that the mild cowpox virus blocks the spread of lethal smallpox.