Far be it from me to knock someone else’s religion as long as it doesn’t interfere with someone else’s faith and freedom. As John Lennon said, “whatever gets you through the night.” In other words, feel free to do whatever you like as long as it doesn’t harm innocent bystanders or force itself on them. If you want to make a deity out of a ’57 Chevy, go for it. But skate over the edge into running other people’s lives, and we have a problem.
That’s what bothers me about the fundamentalist Christians. Not content to wallow in their own particular brand of worship, they feel compelled to share it with the rest of us. And by “share” I mean force it on the rest of the world by shame, lung power, and legislation.
People who do stuff like that have some sort of inferiority complex; they have to prove themselves better than the schlemiel who doesn’t think of Jesus as their personal savior, and they can’t sleep at night because of their obsession about the gay couple down the street doing unspeakable things in their bedroom. (If my experience is any guide, the most unspeakable thing that goes on in a gay couple’s bedroom is one of them hogging the blanket on a cold night.)
This leads to the paranoia that the world is out to get them, and the fact that only 80% of Americans identify as nominally Christian in some form or another is just not good enough. If someone tells them that no, you really can’t force a biology class to include the pleasant poetry of Genesis or that it is a misdemeanor to block access to a medical clinic, they are being denied their religious freedom. It never occurs to them that banning marriage equality might violate the religious freedom of those Christians who believe that God blesses all unions regardless of genitalia. No, the world is out to get them, and the only way to free themselves from this horrible oppression is to do unto others before they do unto you.
That has led to some pretty wild conspiracy theories on behalf of the Religious Reich. Amanda Marcotte at Salon has compiled a list of the Top Ten, ranging from same-sex marriage being a plot by lesbians to entrap men (which kind of flies in the face of a basic understanding of lesbianism) to the efficacy of birth control pills. My favorite, though, is the hatred of Harry Potter.
JK Rowling is trying to lure your children into Satanism with her Harry Potter books. Hardline Christian conservatives have always been afraid pop culture is a conspiracy of Satan’s to attract impressionable young people, so it’s unsurprising that Rowling’s Harry Potter series, with its portrayal of fantasy magic, made the top of the list of products to be feared. The hysteria hit a peak in 2001, with fundamentalist activists accusing the books of trying to “desensitize readers and introduce them to the occult” and “trafficking in evil spirits.” Things were made worse when the Onion published a satirical article Christian conservatives didn’t realize was satire, causing them to literally believe young kids told the Onion things like, “But the Harry Potter books showed me that magic is real, something I can learn and use right now, and that the Bible is nothing but boring lies.” The furor has died down somewhat, but plenty of evangelical leaders still routinely claim demons can possess your body if you read Harry Potter.
That’s ironic on several levels, the first being that people who base their faith and practice on the literal interpretation of a book filled with magic and talking snakes are carrying on about a book filled with magic and talking snakes.
It sounds to me as if they have a problem with envy: J.K. Rowling became a multimillionaire, and the Harry Potter books are a much better read, at least for the kids.
Right-wing Christians want to spread joy and good news throughout the world, but they really can’t be happy doing it unless they make the rest of us miserable.