Sunday, October 6, 2013

Yes, Jonathan there is Context

In a recent Religious News Service post Jonathan Merritt once again does an incredibly shoddy job of reporting what he claims is the "woeful silence of the American church in the face of a global epidemic of Christian persecution." His blog post entitled "Three reasons the American church is ignoring Christian persecution" is really just warmed over Christian Right persecution paranoia. He takes a few grains of truth from widely exaggerated, misleading, and biased sources and then repackages it as if he actually knows what he is talking about. His main source seems to be the deeply flawed piece by Kristen Powers at the Daily Beast. He makes references to a number of puff pieces and out right hack jobs from sources like USA Today and The Hudson Institute. He doesn't seem to have bothered to do even the most basic fact checking of a single one of his sources. This would be bad enough if they were drawn from reasonable researched sources but not one of his sources has any credibility when it comes to investigative reporting. In fact, a few of them are routinely exposed as bigoted liars.

There are far too many problems with both his sources and his own writing to do them justice on a simple blog post so I will focus on one very important one: context. For Merritts piece to actually have any merit (yes, the cheesy pun is intended) the "facts" would have to be put in context. Sadly, it is true that somewhere in the world you can find ample evidence that one religious group or another is being persecute and even killed. This should not be allowed. However, making such hyperbolic claims about Christians being persecuted when put into context actually has the opposite of effect of what Merritt seems to intend. It debases the piece to absurdist theatre. When you look at both who is being persecute and who is doing the persecuting, Christians are the least victimized of all. What about Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians, or the countless indigenous faiths?

Not one of Merritt's 3 reasons stands up to any critical examination. In a global context it comes across as pathetic satire. If you narrow to a North American context it would be more accurately characterized as the school yard bully complaining that a few students refusal to give up their lunch money without being beaten led to his getting a bruised fist. And, no I am not justifying or rationalizing Christians being persecuted. Again, no one should be persecuted. If your Religion happens to be "the" dominant faith* on the face of the planet complaining about being abused when you have done little to help those being similarly abused comes across as being a pampered cry baby.

*No one in their right mind can possibly claim otherwise given that the overwhelming majority of individuals and groups that dominate the world's social, economic, and political institutions are Christian.

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