Now we have the “War on Christianity” according to right-wing sources. “Phil Robertson and his family believe that A&E [is] discriminating against them for their deeply held ‘Christian beliefs.'”
Robertson was suspended from his “reality” TV show, Duck Dynasty, for homophobic and racist statements he made in a GQ Interview (appropriately enough called “What the Duck?”). The right-wing is up in arms over this “persecution,” calling Robertson the “New Rosa Parks”. Seriously.
Here’s the thing: LGBTQ and racial ethnic minorities in the U.S. are actually persecuted, as seen by the huge gap in incarceration rates between whites and blacks, and in the huge gay/straight wage gap. Gun-toting, wealthy entrepreneurs with their own reality TV series are not, in fact, in these groups of the actually persecuted.
This kind of “reversal” of reality is like saying Jesus was persecuting the Romans, not the other way around.
Yet, the “Christian” and cultural right-wing thrives on the perception that they are persecuted.
At year-end, we have yet another manufactured controversy to keep the homophobic, racist and anti-pluralist right-wing feeling persecuted, almost immediately on the heels of the ‘Santa Claus and Jesus are white’ provocation brought to us by Megyn Kelly. (And please read Kelly Brown Douglas’s excellent article on this.)
These reversals, in my view, are the result of a theological problem. If you hold a highly dualistic view of good and evil, i.e. all good is on one side of every issue, then all other opinions are evil, and thus an attack on the beliefs of the “good.” This leads to the false perception of persecution.
Real persecution, however, results in suffering and, with horrible frequency, death.
There is no doubt, from New Testament sources, that the Roman occupiers of ancient Israel, with the help of Temple elites, persecuted Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus teaches the disciples “in secret” to avoid spying, and advises the disciples how to flee persecution. (Matthew 10:23) They spied on him, paid an “informer” from among his inner circle, and finally arrested, tortured and killed him for sedition, as I argue in #OccupytheBible: What Jesus Really Said (and Did) About Money and Power.
See? That’s persecution.
Phil Robertson will return to the Duck Dynasty show in January.
That’s not persecution, that’s advertising.