I have never been so sick of hearing about cups since the Pitch Perfect song hit the radio waves and stuck around for far too long. In yet another instance of the “war on Christmas,” conservative Christians from various denominations have erupted in outrage over the Starbucks winter cups’ minimalist design that is apparently not Christmassy enough for them. If this is the first time you’re hearing about this story, I’m sorry for bringing it to your attention.
However, the purpose of this article is not going focus on just the cups because that topic is simply not worth writing about. What is important is this ludicrous and disgusting idea that conservative Christians truly believe they are being persecuted right now in America. For far too long, politicians like Mike Huckabee—who believes same-sex marriage will lead to the criminalization of Christianity—and Senator Ted Cruz, backed by evangelical preachers abundant, have led a fear mongering campaign that claims that the United States is on its way to Hell in a hand basket, and that Christians will be the first group ousted, as if the dawning of a second Holocaust is upon us, right here in America.
Over the last few years, there have been a number of incidents that Evangelicals and conservative Catholics mostly have deemed to be “attacks” on religious freedom. The “oppression” particularly derives from the emergence of LGBTQ rights. In what is known as the Christian Persecution Complex, right-wing Christians oftentimes will marginalize themselves based on the actions of authority figures with whom they do not agree. They hide behind religious belief as an excuse to act in a bigoted manner, but cry foul when there is perfectly fair and legal retaliation from the other party, such as going to court. They hide behind the “freedom of conscience” by refusing a public service in their elected positions (everyone’s BFF Kim Davis). They hide behind the “Love the sinner, and hate the sin,” mentality that not only promotes their own piety, but also demonizes “sinners” who don’t actually believe their actions are sinful.
“Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a superficial kind of love. It’s a backhanded excuse for disagreeing with a person’s lifestyle and allows them to associate a sin with the person, thus hating the “sinner,” as well in a veiled manner. It’s a stubborn statement, refusing to engage in any dialogue about sin and the culpability of the “sinner.” Above all, it presents a “holier than thou” attitude by declaring who is and isn’t a “sinner” of society, all of which is rooted in the idea that God sees everything in black and white and offers no mercy. Authentic love, in a Christian sense, is a death to the self in “laying down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13) and in this case, a death to pride.
So many conservative Christians of today are too concerned with their own affairs and embody the idea of Americentrism. They put Starbucks cups and the opposition to birth control ahead of the plight of Syrian refugees overseas losing their lives for their faith and the well being of their families. They fear gay couples adopting unwanted children (somehow this isn’t pro-life?) will ruin America as Muslims are assaulted and killed in a country that is supposed to be religiously tolerant. The “issues” they, as Americans, face are the only issues that matter and are worthy of public outcry and casually gloss over actual persecution.
The persecution goes beyond reality and manifests itself in fiction and speculation. The movie God’s Not Dead chronicles a college student forced to debate the existence of God or accept a failing grade for not complying to the views of his atheist professor, as if this is equated to the martyrdom of Christian saints from ancient times to today. It also categorizes atheists as the bigots of the *gasp* secular society. Not surprisingly, the movie bombed with critics and received a solid 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. Even celebrity leaders of churches, like Rev. Billy Graham’s son Franklin, speculate an impending persecution of Christians with little to no credible basis.
It is a terrible reflection on Christianity within our country to express outrage over trivial matters, like cups, instead of actual persecution. I cannot emphasize enough how frustrating it is to see people waving their own religion in the faces of others so as to mock them and elevate themselves in the name of religious freedom. The Christian Persecution Complex is selfish and embarrassing to Christians across the country who believe in actively helping people instead of “spiritually” and passively fighting a pretend “war” on Christmas and Christianity in America in order to self-promote.
Now let’s stop talking about these damn cups already.