Sat Jan 21, 2012, 09:44 AM
SecularMotion (3,668 posts)
Who’s a Religious “Minority” in the United States?
On Monday Republican South Carolina Representative Tim Scott, at a South Carolina Tea Party conference that also included presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, made a rather dubious assertion concerning religion in America.
Rep. Tim Scott in SC: "The greatest minority under assault today are Christians. No doubt about it."
Christians are the “greatest minority under assault today?” Where does that come from? While it’s true that “the religious beliefs and practices of Americans do not fit neatly into conventional categories,” the statistical pie, no matter how you slice it, shows Christianity is the dominant form of religion in the United States. In addition, Christianity remains the world’s largest religion, with nearly 37% of the world’s Christians making their home in the Americas. Now, are there countries where Christianity is an endangered minority? Of course, but the United States is not even close to being one. Yet time and again we hear a persecution narrative that paints Christians in North America as though they were living in Iran or North Korea. Conservative Christians have painted the Obama administration as waging a “war on religion,” with figures like New Gingrich decrying the “bigotry” of the current president. That’s nothing new for Gingrich, who claimed in 2009 that Christians were “surrounded” by “paganism”.
So it seems we really need to start clearly defining terms like “minority” and “persecution” when we are talking about religion in this country. Consult any dictionary or encyclopedia, and they’ll tell you that a minority faith is smaller than the majority faith in a country or region. In South Carolina, home to Rep. Scott, 45% of residents are evangelical Christians, 18% are mainline protestant Christians, and 8% are Catholics. Guess what that adds up to? You guessed it! A majority! Catholicism taken alone outnumbers all non-Christian faiths in South Carolina combined. Yet we are led to believe that it is Christians who are under “assault.” As I’ve said before, Christianity has a historical and theological persecution narrative, which can unfortunately become something of a complex that distorts reality, instead of calling its adherents towards a witness of tolerance and coexistence for all.
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