[O]nce a mythical incident of supposed Christian victimization gets embraced by the Religious Right, it takes on a life of its own as no amount of evidence pointing out that the incident never happened will stop if from being spread. And that principle was demonstrated today on Liberty Counsel’s “Faith and Freedom” radio broadcast where hosts Matt Barber and Shawn Akers juxtaposed the news of Jason Collins’ coming out against the story of Derrick Hayes, a high school runner who was supposedly disqualified from an event for thanking God after finishing a race.
I was a history major in college, and I’m a writer (and no one’s excuse for a math whiz). That’s just my way of saying that I’m having difficulty wrapping my head around the idea that Christians are an oppressed majority. Since 77% of Americans self-identify as “Christian,” I have to wonder how a religion that 3/4 of Americans profess to follow can be under such constant, withering assault from the forces of Darkness and Evil (Or, as I like to call them, “atheists” and “followers of other religions”). Christians control every aspect of government- especially the military (The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is practically a satellite campus of Pat Robertson’s Regent’s University). Every aspect of public life that can project political and/or military power is firmly under the control of those who consider Jesus Christ to be their personal Lord and Savior…and yet Christians STILL claim the mantle of martyrdom with a straight face??
Really? They claim to be an oppressed majority AND they expect to taken seriously? That’s either chutzpah or arrogance…or, even worse, both. While I realize that most Christians are a decent lot who try to live their faith, those who make the most noise on this subject wouldn’t (and couldn’t) live the teachings of Jesus Christ if you handed them a map, a compass, and an instruction manual.
The latest arrogant attempt at self-martyrdom comes to us courtesy of Matt Barber and Shawn Akers at The Liberty Counsel, a cabal of Rabid Right-wing zealots whose knowledge of liberty is almost as minimal as their grasp of Christianity. By jumping on the case of a Texas high school runner allegedly disqualified from a race for “thanking God,” Barber and Akers had a story with a hook that reeled in Texas Governor Rick Perry, Fox News Channel, AND the Rabid Religious Right. Nice trifecta, eh? What was done to the runner, Derrick Hayes, was truly criminal and anti-Christian. Well, it would have been if the story was true, which it’s not.
Yes, Hayes was disqualified from a race; at least that much is true. The rest is a total fabrication. Even Hayes and his parents have confirmed that he wasn’t qualified for “thanking God.” Hayes was disqualified by a race official who felt that he had acted disrespectfully. ‘Course, if there’s one thing we should know by now, it’s that the fundies and their fellow travelers seldom allow the truth to get in the way of a good story.
Todd Starnes of Fox News has dedicated himself to finding cases of Christians facing persecution. Starnes recently reported that the military is deliberately blocking access to a Baptist website and may court-martial Christian soldiers, and alleged that a school in New York is forcing girls to kiss one another. However, these three incidents were all completely false.
On Sunday, Starnes filed another report on how a high school track team in Texas “was disqualified from competing in the state championships because one of the runners made a gesture thanking God after he crossed the finish line.”
“Derrick Hayes, the anchor of the Columbus High School 4×100 relay team had just crossed the finish line when he raised his finger to the sky,” Starnes writes, “thanking the Lord for winning the race that would send them to the state finals.
His article was based on the claims of the athlete’s father, and other outlets picked up the story as well.
Governor Goodhair immediately had his panties in a wad and, never one to miss an opportunity to defend the rights of his fellow Christians, demanded an immediate investigation. As a hyper-partisan member of the Rabid Religious Right, Perry’s not inclined to pass on demonstrating the depth and breadth of his religiosity. Rick Perry’s also a world-class hypocrite who should teach classes on exploiting religious issues for political gain. Gov. Perry, after all, is the same person who held a day of prayer last year as a last-ditch effort to end the drought in Texas. That didn’t work out so well, either.
If you’re going to claim to be an oppressed class, there are a couple things to keep in mind. First, you want to be certain that the “oppression” you’re claiming to be living under should be behavior generally recognized as oppression. Denying you the right to use your beliefs to run roughshod over non-believers is NOT the textbook definition of oppression. Second, if your group comprises 3/4 of the population, you CANNOT, under ANY circumstance whatsoever, claim to be oppressed. This is especially true when fellow believers do control the projection of political and military power.