War on Christianity

HANNAH CARR-MURPHY, Opinion Columnist

Nothing gets me more riled up than the war on Christianity in America. Imagine being in constant danger because of your most closely held beliefs. That type of fear and oppression must be as psychologically damaging as being perceived as automatically guilty by law enforcement and media outlets, like many people of color experience. Just like people who are trans or nonbinary, it must be impossible for Christians to find a safe place to go to the restroom without being stared at, harassed or beaten. And when I was walking home on a Saturday night with my hijabi Muslim roommate last spring, I’m sure the young men on the Hill who screamed “immigrant” in our faces were talking to me, because my family is Irish Catholic.

I concede that there are many places around the world where it is dangerous to be a Christian and many places where it is dangerous to be religious in general. The United States is not one of those places. The war on Christianity I’m talking about is a war that has been manufactured by the GOP fear-machine and conservative Christian politicians like Mike Huckabee.

The fear-mongering rhetoric of a war on Christianity is dragged up each time conservative Christians are upset by social progress in the US. The most nauseating example of this is the morning news cycle after the tragic mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. When Christian politicians and journalists chose to make that event about the mythic war on Christianity instead of the real war on black and brown Americans, it made me sick.

But there is a war on the home front, and Christians are involved. In fact, no American is exempt from this war. It is even being fought on our UNI campus. I’m looking at you, UNI Right to Life, and your war on women’s healthcare and body autonomy. I’m looking at you, InterVarsity, and your policy that allows LGBT students to be members but not leaders in your organization. And I’m even looking at you, unaffiliated Christians of UNI, and your refusal to see injustice anywhere as a threat to justice everywhere, an MLK quote you can find on the outside of Maucker Union.

If you’re planning to put on the armor of God, as it says in Ephesians 6:10-18, make sure your belt of truth obligates you to speak out for the rights of persons of color being targeted, beaten and killed by police; persons in the LGBTQIA community, for whom even going to the restroom can be a risk of life, also for persons who practice Islam, who actually are at risk in the US when they show their devotion to God.

There is a war being fought in many social and legal spheres, but it is against injustice, not Christians or religious freedom. Why the rending of garments and weeping when same-sex couples were granted equality under the law, brothers and sisters in Christ? Why the constant efforts to keep women (especially low-income women) from utilizing the vital healthcare services of Planned Parenthood when Jesus set a precedent for quality women’s healthcare by healing the woman with the issue of blood? Where in the Bible are you guaranteed the right to not have to interact with people whose beliefs and values differ from your own?

Before I wrap up this article, a caveat, so no one can accuse me of painting with too broad of a brush: progressive Christians do exist, and I respect what they do for justice every day. Also, a piece of information to keep you from dismissing me as a Bible-illiterate, Godless liberal: I spent this summer as an intern at a Christian publishing company developing Sunday school materials for children. Call me what you will, but Bible-illiterate would just be inaccurate.

So, yes, there is a war here in America, or rather, there are many intersecting political wars being fought in courtrooms, classrooms and blocked-off streets, and too many Christians are not on side of the angels.