Published on April 24th, 2016 | by Josiah Batten1
The Marginalization of Christianity Pt. 1
As American Christians we frequently see debates about whether Christianity is being persecuted in the United States. Strictly speaking, we aren’t being arrested for being Christians, churches are not being seized by the government, and so on. To compare what we in the United States face with what a Christian in some other country, say Saudi Arabia, faces is a stretch.
But the real issue is not whether we as Christians are being persecuted. The issue is we are definitely being marginalized, and that marginalization is what happens before explicit forms of persecution. So I don’t think we are being badly persecuted now, but given how we are being marginalized I think persecution is going to happen at some point down the road.
Unfortunately, many of us are not very wise in this regard. Far too many Evangelicals are content to just go on living the “American Dream” and pretend like nothing is happening. Those that realize something is happening tend to react in all the wrong ways, in ways that only hasten our marginalization. We aren’t fighting much, and when we do fight we do not fight well. It is in light of this reality that I offer this series of posts. I’m not sure how long it will be, I’ll just keep adding posts until I think I’ve covered all the main points.
The first thing we need to realize is that Christianity is being marginalized by our culture as a whole, and it is being so marginalized because as Christians we are at odds with the vision of society held by the reigning monarchy. That monarchy is composed of cultural gatekeepers, the media, prominent politicians, the major political parties, the musicians, the Hollywood elite, the vast majority of university administrators and professors, public “intellectuals”, the public school system, numerous special interest groups, and a vast network of village idiots who dutifully go into rage mode on social media whenever the generals of the reigning monarchy demands it. It truly is us against the world.
The second thing we need to realize is that we are losing the fight, and losing badly. This is largely because we do not understand the fight, much less do we understand our opponents and the strategies they are using. My goal in this series of posts is to expose those strategies and tactics, to make what they are doing behind closed doors obvious for all to see. We need to know what we are up against to fight effectively, and we have been woefully ignorant of what we are up against up to this point. The emperor has no clothes, but to prove the emperor has no clothes I need to get him out into the open.
So let me expose one of these strategies in this post, and I’ll save others for later posts. The primary strategy, the number one way that the anti-Christian worldview is prevailing in our society, is by rhetorical sleight of hand. They are controlling language, controlling what terms we use and how we define them, and thus controlling public dialogue and thinking itself.
What those who seek to marginalize Christianity are doing is a page right out of Big Brothers playbook: They are manipulating language in order to effectively end debate about any topic before it begins. They are writing the linguistic rule book in such a way that Christianity cannot possibly win if we play by their rules, and then they actually convince us to play by their rules.
This probably seems abstract and heady, perhaps even a little paranoid and crazy. Let me give you some concrete examples to illustrate what I mean.
One of the primary ways Christianity has been marginalized is by being labeled “unscientific” or “anti-science.” Of course this a lie, and a blatant one. Francis Bacon, one of the founders of modern science, was himself a Christian. But our culture is not interested in a serious discussion, they are interested in beating us into submission. So how did they get the “anti-science” label to stick? By manipulating the language we use to talk about science and setting the terms of the debate to exclude Christianity from the start.
What the anti-Christians mean by “science” is not science (in terms of the scientific method). What the anti-Christians mean by “science” is “naturalism.” Naturalism is a philosophy that holds only the natural world exists. Because Christianity is theistic, we are necessarily anti-naturalism. We believe God exists, that a supernatural world exists beyond the natural one. But such careful distinctions might give Christianity credibility in the public realm, so the reigning monarchy cannot allow that. Instead, they avoid the discussion entirely by dogmatically asserting the following:
1. Science is really cool.
2. If you don’t like science, you are a poo poo head.
3. Christians don’t like science.
4. Thus, Christians are poo poo heads.
The more perceptive of you may have realized that this is hardly a rigorous argument. But more importantly, you’ve also realized that there is equivocation on what is meant by “science.” To maintain that Christians don’t like science, one has to define science in a way that puts it at odds with Christianity, one has to stop talking about “science” and start talking about naturalism. But the reigning monarchy is smart. They know “naturalism” has no sex appeal. Science is all the rage. So use the word “science” when you really mean “naturalism” and you can make the anti-science label stick to Christianity very easily.
Of course, this is an abuse of language. Using a term to intentionally confuse people and marginalize a specific group is both intellectually dishonest and morally wrong. But it is also rhetorically effective. It allows the reigning monarchy to not only marginalize their competition, but also to control the thinking of their followers. It is an Orwellian manipulation of language in order to seize and exercise power over people.
Illustrations like this could be multiplied. Political correctness is an enterprise in controlling how people talk in order to control what they think. Why do labels like “bigot,” “hateful,” and “close-minded” rear up any time Christians advocate for basic sanity in our society? Because our opponents are manipulating language in order to exercise control, and they are doing it so effectively few people even recognize it is happening.
We as Christians have to wise up to this fact. Western Civilization is dying because we are being rhetorically outmaneuvered. And far too many of us accept this abuse of language. We play by this abuse of language, where the very words we use are stacked against us, and then we wonder why we can’t win at this game. We have to be alert to the fact that language is being abused in order to marginalize Christianity itself.
Soli Deo Gloria,