Misulonas: Is there really a “War on Christianity?”

Joseph Misulonas

Is there really a war on Christianity?

Recently, President Obama and the White House ignited a controversy when they announced they were going to make Catholic-affiliated hospitals provide birth control.

This announcement sparked a national debate. Many Republicans came out and attacked the President for trying to force religious-affiliated institutions to enact policies they do not agree with. They argued that this decision would violate these institutions’ freedom of religion.

The problem with the conservative response was that it went beyond what was necessary. It was not enough that they argued this violated freedom of religion–they had to accuse Obama and the White House of waging war on religion. Rick Santorum claimed that the president is leading people of faith down a path that ends at the guillotine. And evangelical leaders such as Chuck Colson have compared this announcement with the policies of Nazi Germany (although it seems conservatives can find a parallel between Obama and Hitler on any issue).

This is another example of the continual attempt of Christian conservatives to portray themselves as victims. As Jon Stewart said on The Daily Show, “You confused the war on your religion with not always getting everything you want.” Christians love to play the victimization drum anytime they don’t get exactly what they want. Christmas trees being called “holiday trees,” creationism not being taught in science classes or making it optional to say “under God” while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance are all times when Christians play the “War on Religion” card.

The fact is, the “War on Christianity” is a falsehood. According to an ABC News poll, 83 percent of U.S. citizens consider themselves Christian. That’s not just a majority, not even a supermajority– that’s a super duper “We Basically Control Everything in this Country” majority. Trying to pretend that you are an oppressed group in this country when four out of every five people are a part of your “oppressed” group is ridiculous. According to Pew Forum, more than 90 percent of Congress members consider themselves to be Christian. Is it possible to be oppressed when nearly everyone in charge belongs in your group?

If Christianity in America were really being threatened, wouldn’t gay marriage be legalized? According to a Gallup poll done last May, 53 percent of Americans support gay marriage. Even on issues where Christian conservatives are in the minority, they still get their way. Clearly, they wield more political power in the United States than any other group.

If Christians were really worried about religious freedom, they would take issue with what’s been happening to Muslims in this country for the last decade. If there’s any group whose religious freedom is being threatened, it’s Muslims. Throughout this country, Muslims often face discrimination. Whether it’s groups protesting reality shows that show the lives of average American Muslims or being denied permits to build mosques in certain communities, Muslims are routinely exposed to a level of religious censorship that Christians in this country cannot even imagine.

In fact, Christian groups are often at the forefront of attacks on Muslims. There was the famous case of the Florida pastor who burned a Quran. And the Muslim reality show I mentioned was cancelled following protests led by the Florida Family Association, a conservative Christian group.

The fact is, the “War on Christianity” is a myth. It’s a myth perpetuated by conservative politicians to drum up political support. As long as conservatives can claim that liberals are attacking Christianity, they can keep Christians voting Republican.

It’s pure manipulation. It insults the intelligence of Christian voters. Why can’t Christian voters be confronted with an intellectual debate about whether or not their religious institutions should have to follow guidelines when they accept federal funds? Do they think that Christians will be against them if they present a reasonable argument? Is the only way conservatives can keep Christians voting for them inventing these myths?

These attacks only serve to dumb down our political discourse. There are important discussions and debates revolving around religion and the relationship between religious organizations and the government. As long as we are being distracted by the unnecessary “victimization” of conservative leaders, those important discussions will not be had.

If only the Constitution had guaranteed freedom of rationality…

Joseph Misulonas is a Medill sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]

All opinions expressed in this column are solely the opinions of the columnist and do not reflect the views of The Daily Northwestern. If you would like to respond to the column, you may comment below, email the columnist or submit a 300-word letter to the editor to [email protected].