I don't have anything against them personally, you know; in fact some of my best friends are Christians. There are a couple of them in my office and they usually come over to the house with their husbands once or twice over the course of a year. We usually end up talking about our kids or other stuff that we have in common. Of course, they're not really close friends, but it's just good policy to make everyone in the office feel like they matter to me.
Of course I would never have them over with anybody else from the office, it would just be awkward. Not everybody on staff is as liberal about integration as I am, not that I've much choice in the matter considering the latest edict on equality in the workplace. But, edict or no edicts, I would treat them the same way as I treat them now, and I know they appreciate that.
I've known Christians for years you see, my family always had a couple around the house who would look after the gardening and the housekeeping. I remember mom always used to say, nothing beat a Christian for being hard working and uncomplaining. Smart too, you'd never have to tell them something twice or worry about them not understanding the most complicated instructions for planting a year's flower arrangements.
When I was growing up in very white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant Toronto, Ontario in the late 1960s and through to the mid-1970s, I'd run into this attitude on a regular basis. There were birthday parties I wasn't invited to as a child because the clubs they were held in were restricted and it was to keep people like me out that those restrictions existed.
I have memories of my mother from those times that make me suspect she was more hurt by these incidents then I was. She had lived through the Second World War, which supposedly had been fought to preserve democracy and ensure people were treated with dignity. Twenty years after the end of that war, the same racism that had existed before was still going strong in the city her mother was born in.
Today there are still clubs and organizations across North America that claim the right to limit access to their facilities based on a person's skin colour and/or religion. Yet our governments claim they are fighting wars to create democratic societies just like ours. Why would anyone want a society like ours?
How can our governments say with a straight face that they are fighting in Afghanistan to liberate its people from a theocracy, when that's what they are attempting to impose on their own people? No modern era, "democratic" governments have been more regressive and close–minded then those of George Bush and Stephen Harper. In Canada and the United States, the governments have been changing the criminal code and passing legislation that ensures closer compliance with a very narrow definition of Christianity.
George has been championing "Intelligent Design" – the theory that God "faked the fossils" as a means of testing our faith and that He created evolution. It very conveniently makes both God and Darwin right, although I've yet to hear how they get around the whole –Adam and Eve versus the higher form of primate theory. I don't know how successful he's been in getting that taught in high schools, but the fact that he's trying to at all is scary.
His buddy Stevie, up in Canada, failed to get rid of same sex marriage as he promised, so instead he's trying to modify the criminal code to allow people the right to discriminate – if their religion makes them. "The Defence of Religions Act" would allow people the right to refuse serve gays and lesbians in their place of business, refuse to hire them, and to preach and teach that they are evil. I don't know if it's only limited to gays, or if you can discriminate against anyone, as long as your God tells you to.
All of these activities are forbidden by the criminal code needless to say, and would never stand up to a court challenge, because it's in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canada's Bill of Rights). But this way everybody know Stevie's heart is in the right place and if they could only get rid of that pesky Bill of Rights, he'd rid the land of fags, and others to be determined at a latter date, so fast it would make you head spin.
How anyone could even think of claiming that the rights of the majority need defending is beyond me. What, I want to know, do they need defending against in the first place? They should be grateful that the only price they are paying after centuries of intolerance, cruelty, and oppression are the affirmative action programs that barely offer any redress for their behaviour. Would they prefer to have the state confiscate all their possessions and revoke all their rights as citizens like we did to Japanese North Americans in the 1940s?
How about living in an atmosphere of such poisonous fear members of your religion are referred to as "rag-heads" and automatically treated with suspicion? Maybe you would prefer being stopped by the police on a regular basis simply because they can't believe "your kind" could own whatever type of vehicle you happen to be driving without having done something illegal? Or, you could just be hauled out into the town square every time you screw up at work; whipped, sold, and shipped across country never to see your family again.
For all my apparent cynicism, I'm a pretty naive and optimistic person. I still believe that the purpose of a religion is to help people celebrate the beauty of creation, and to provide them the means to say thanks for being given the privilege of living in such an amazing world. Unfortunately, too many people view it as a means for justifying oppression and exalting themselves over others.
The other day I had caught the tail end of a discussion on the radio about racism in the oil patch in Western Canada. It seems that anybody who isn't a white-skinned male is treated with open hostility. A listener had written in by email to give his response; silence in the face of racism or other oppressive behaviour implies your tacit approval.
The twentieth century showed just how deadly not speaking out could be. The twenty-first has barely begun and governments the world over, no matter what their faith — Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Shinto, or Buddhist — have shown they are counting on us to keep our mouths shut. I, for one, plan on disappointing that expectation whenever possible.