Listening to them tell it, one would think Christians in America are the most ostracized and oppressed group of people in the country. According to them, they are the constant object of ridicule and persecution, demonized by liberal media, hated nationwide. Christians claim they are denied equal rights and protections under the Constitution and complain that gays, liberals, and lawyers are conspiring to eradicate Christianity from American government and culture.
Take, for instance, a recent article by
Stanley Kurtz in the National Review wherein Kurtz laments the
beginnings "of a systematic campaign of hatred directed at traditional
Christians." According to Kurtz, Christians in America have been forced
to become more militant and political because of "40 years of
revolutionary social reforms" (the civil rights movement?) that have
made it "impossible for religious conservatives to have a voice in
ordinary political give and take." Indeed, things are so bad in America
that "traditional Christians are openly excoriated in the mainstream
press as evil, fascist, segregationist bigots." Worse yet, their
political speech is "under legislative threat" and "their institutions
of higher education are attacked and destroyed."
Kurtz is not alone in his bemoaning of the intolerant persecution of American Christians by homosexual liberal heathens. Last month, on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) decried "the long war on Christianity in America." The perpetrators of that war? Democrats, of course! Hostettler deplored the anti-Christian war which "continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats."
Yikes! Who knew Christians had it so rough?
The truth is, Christians don't have it rough at all. And they certainly don't have it rough in the United States.
It is well known that the current President is an unabashed born-again Christian who once declared Jesus Christ to be his "favorite political philosopher." Bush even once commented that he believed Jesus wanted him to become President. One of Bush's first acts in office was the creation of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (FBCI). It marked the first time the federal government openly subsidized religious organizations.
As it turns out, the majority of groups that have received funding from the FBCI have been overtly Christian. Indeed, secular charities which were denied federal funds have subsequently been granted funding after re-registering as faith-based programs. What's more, in his 2006 budget, Bush proposed cutting funding for such secular programs as public housing subsidies, food stamps, energy assistance, community development, social services, and community service block grants. At the same time, Bush proposed adding $385 million in new faith-based programs. In 2004, more than $2 billion in faith-based grants were awarded by the Bush administration – nearly double the amount for 2003.
In April, Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist addressed 1,700 evangelical Christians at a rally called "Justice Sunday – Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith." The clear message of the rally (a message unequivocally endorsed by Frist) was that all Democrats opposed to Bush's judicial nominations are anti-Christian. Frist's remarks, along with the rest of the rally, were simulcast to 130 other churches, 500 Christian radio stations, and across the internet.
Like Bush, Republican House Majority Leader Tom "The Hammer" DeLay considers himself a born-again Christian and is arguably the most powerful and influential member of the House of Representatives. DeLay is not alone in his salvation. According to a study by Furman University's Jim Guth, nearly one-third of congressional leaders in America consider themselves evangelical.
To recap, the President of the United States and the Republican leaders of both the House and the Senate are openly conservative Christians. Openly Christian groups have also received billions of dollars in federal grants. Not to mention the President's staunch pro-life stance (except when it comes to the death penalty) and his repeated calls for a constitutional amendment to protect the sacred institution of marriage from homosexuals (but not from divorce). After all, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
Clearly, Christians are completely shut out of and have no voice in politics or government.
In terms of the oft-criticized "liberal" media, Christians are hardly out in the cold there, either. The Left Behind book series is a perennial best-seller and The Purpose Driven Life (the self-described "manifesto for Christian living in the 21st century") is the best-selling hardcover book in U.S. history. In fact, Christian-based books are the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry. The same is true for Contemporary Christian music.
As for movies and television, not too long ago NBC aired the weeks-long mini series "Revelations," depicting the Bible's End of Days. Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ was a blockbuster hit. There's also the 700 Club, as well as Life in the Word and Believer's Voice of Victory, all of which air on a daily basis. Every Sunday, evangelical Christian worship programs air nationwide, like the Hour of Power from the Crystal Cathedral. Trinity Broadcasting Network, The Inspiration Network, and the Eternal Word Television Network all appear on cable networks around the country.
Let's not forget Billy Graham. The pioneer of televangelism embarked upon his final evangelistic crusade this summer. To mark his retirement, talk-show hosts Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough, and Chris Matthews all broadcast live from the crusade. So inspired was Matthews by Graham's proselytizing that he took his MSNBC show Hardball on the week-long "Church Tour: One Nation Under God."
Christians figure prominently on radio, too. The popular "Focus on the Family" radio show is listened to by four million people every day on 4,000 radio (and TV) stations in over 40 countries. American Family Radio owns nearly 200 radio stations throughout the United States. AFR has also successfully taken over the airwaves of National Public Radio in Louisiana, Oregon, and Indiana.
Remember when Pope John Paul II died? Of course you do. Coverage of his illness and death, followed by the selection of Pope Benedict XVI, dominated network and cable news for weeks. Don't think for a minute that the Dalai Lama's death would garner such rapt attention from the media.
Christmas and Easter are official government holidays. Not Ramadan or Yom Kippur. "The Ten Commandments" airs every year on national television. Jesus fish and Christian bumper stickers adorn cars everywhere. Public schools consider teaching "intelligent design" (a.k.a. creationism, a.k.a. the Book of Genesis) to counter the scientific theory of evolution. On and on and on.
The point is, all of their whining to the contrary notwithstanding, conservative and evangelical Christians play the dominant role in American government and society. No other religious or cultural group in America can hold a candle to Christians. For them to claim otherwise, that they are persecuted and discriminated against, is simply dishonest.