Calm Down Christian Blokes, Nobody is Bullying You

by jillst

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about that Cooper’s video. If you haven’t, you can feast your eyes on it in all its cringe-y awkwardness here.*

I have a lot of thoughts about this video. Mostly, that it made me once again wish I could run PR for the entire religion of Christianity.

Seriously. How did nobody from a religion centred around loving your neighbour stop and think: “Hey, you guys, just a thought – maybe this video of three white guys, two of whom are Christian and all of whom are right wing, having a good lol over a beer about an issue that contributes to the fact that gay people are 14x more likely to kill themselves than straight people, is not going to go over well on the internet.”

Predictably, condemnation was swift. I’m not going to add to it – well, anymore than I already have in my attempt to describe the video above, which we can all agree failed spectacularly as a piece of impartial reporting. As previously discussed, I’m not the right person to speak for the gay community.

What I want to talk about is the condemnation of the condemnation. The pushback against the video’s detractors. Because, of course, the Christian white boys were outraged. How dare someone take a thing that they had made and not like it?

“We’re being bullied!” They cried. “What about freedom of speech?”

Firstly, Christian white boys, nobody was attacking you personally. They were not, for example, calling you out publicly for your decision to wear a one-piece swimsuit to the beach, or a tank top during a 40-degree heatwave, such as Christian men do to Christian women all the time. The dialogue was about the video, the very specific ideas in that video, and the presentation of such.

Secondly, in the style of many pre-schoolers I know, I think you need to learn a little lesson about bullying, because I’m not sure you know what it means.

The definition of being bullied is not “I said something and people did not think it was appropriate and got angry.”

It is especially not “I am a white man who practices Australia’s dominant religion and I said something and people did not think it was appropriate and got angry.”

Bullying is a big, popular kid and his gang of mates picking on a small kid who doesn’t have any friends.

If you honestly cannot see that the church has been the big, popular kid tearing down gay people and women and racial and religious minorities in the past, then I maybe can’t help you – you might actually be too far gone to change.

But I think a lot of Christians, including lots of white men, realise that the church has done wrong in the past, and has used its power in really terrible ways. The difference now, they say, is that we are no longer popular. People watched our big boys bully those smaller than themselves and left and joined the other side, in droves. There are more of them now, they say. They have gotten muscly over the summer holidays. They are the bullies and we are the ones being picked on.

To which, I have to say…weeeell…

Sure, bible-believing, church attending Christians are certainly thin on the ground in lots of places – and gay people undoubtedly have a lot of support on the issue of marriage equality. Those Christians in dissent** have long been outvoted by the general public (though still, bizarrely, in their next breath, claim they are supporting a silent majority).

But as any good networker will tell you, being powerful is not just about having friends. It’s about having the right friends.***

The fact is that, barring a lot of legal reform and a systematic cull of the older Caucasian blokes from beachside suburbs who run Australia, Christians are not being bullied.

It would be difficult, in this country, for us to be bullied ever. The constitution legalises our right to teach children about Jesus in schools.  Further legislation enshrines our values on everything from break time to BDSM. Any and every perceived slight against us is reported in right wing media as an attack on “the Christian values that built our nation.” There are so many Christians in parliament that they have their own prayer group – it meets on Monday nights.

If anything, we are overrepresented in positions of power. According to a 2014 article, during Tony Abbott’s time as prime minister, 8 of 19 members (42%) of the cabinet were Catholic, to say nothing of what I’m sure was a strong protestant showing. In contrast, only 25% of Australians said they were Catholic in the 2011 census – a number which I would bet money dropped in time for last year’s debacle.

There are only three out gay members of Australian lower house, 2% of the house’s total headcount (according to this 2016 article) and to my knowledge, no transgender members, while statistics indicate that one in every ten people is likely LGBT.

It’s easy to see why people don’t take too kindly when we say there is nobody to stand up for our values. When we argue we are being silenced, bullied and ignored.

Now, don’t mishear me, Christian blokes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Christians or white people or men being in positions of power having political opinions, or voicing those political opinions – though if they’re Christian, they’re called to do that in a loving way. We live in a democracy, a system of government based on people giving their views on policies, laws and legislators.

The thing that the most privileged Christians need to get used to is the fact that people can now say whatever they want back.

Seriously. Whatever they want.

They have friends now. If those friends don’t want to buy your beer, that is their prerogative.

Even if we think we are being nice and doing a nice thing. Even when we think their response is mean or illegitimate. Even when we think we are right.

Our detractors can still say anything the like, and we have to try and be loving in response.

Not try to stand on our rights. Not try to yell louder. Not try to silence the opposition.

God’s promise to us was not that we would live lovely lives protected from nasty name calling. In fact, it was the very opposite.

I understand the fears Christian white men have. They have never been a minority before – they have never been powerless. But to wallow in their own suffering as though they haven’t and aren’t causing suffering, or as though Christians aren’t being gunned down with machine guns in other parts of the world, is laughable to anyone, and particularly to the women and minorities that their voices have previously silenced.

It’s time you all came out of your bubble for a bit of air, took a look around, had a chat with someone who’s not like you (that wasn’t just a debate about an opinion you’re secure in), and learned to deal with where we are instead of longing for a past that is very much gone.

I think it would really help some of you stop saying silly things that those of us living in the real world then have to try and explain to our non-Christian friends and family – and I think it might help the rest of the world be a little more sympathetic if we ever come under real attack.

Perhaps every Christian white man fear will come true, and you will all be right. Maybe Christian ministers will be thrown in jail for preaching the bible’s views of sexuality. Maybe they will take away our legal right to tell our children about Jesus. Maybe we will be told we have to make a cake for a same sex wedding.**** Maybe your kid, who I suspect is the real target of your worry and concern, will support values you do not support, or will not be a Christian, or is gay or transgender him or herself.*****

You know what I doubt is going to slow the advance of that day, of those days, which may very well be coming? Privileged people playing a false victim card too early, before anyone has made any serious attempt to limit the rights of Christians in the first place.

And if our brothers and sisters, about to be eaten by lions and set on fire and nailed to pieces of wood, can bless their enemies and pray for those who persecute them, I promise, you can shut the hell up and stop writing nasty homophobic comments on Facebook.

*TLDR summary: three white guys in suits drink Cooper’s beer and discuss the pros and cons of same sex marriage

**And we are not all in dissent

***This potential pun was unintentional, I promise, I hate puns because I am a humourless bitch

****Which like, sorry Christians but big fat who cares. It’s a cake, nobody is forcing you to have gay sex

*****In which case I hope you will do as the bible says, and still love them and take care of them

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