GOP presidential hopeful and winner of three straw polls thus far, Ben Carson, is confused about the Constitution. Specifically, he, like others on the religious right, thinks that the secular government is trying to take away their right to believe as they choose. At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, he pulled out the religious right’s persecution complex and talked it up for everything he was worth.
The Hill reports that he said:
Don’t let the secular progressives drive God out of our lives.
We have to stop letting [secular interests] bully us. We back down too easily. It’s an important part of who we are.
He also said that the government was never meant to have a role in people’s personal beliefs. That’s true, but only insofar as the government was never meant to interfere in the free and peaceful exercise of one’s personal beliefs. In a nation founded on religious freedom, the government must necessarily step in and curb religious interests when they threaten the freedoms of others.
That’s the crux of the problem with the religious right. Anything that doesn’t fit with their religious ideas is automatically something that’s meant to take religion away from them. They don’t see trying to govern in accordance with biblical law as wrongly forcing religion on anybody else.
Christianity has been the dominant religion in the U.S. forever. It still is. Evangelicals must know this, so where does this persecution complex come from? An article in Salon explores possible origins in the Bible itself. The Bible makes suffering at the hands of outsiders the reality of the Christian, and such suffering somehow makes someone more pure and righteous in the eyes of their god. They’re encouraged to embrace suffering and persecution.
Is it possible that this mindset makes them see persecution everywhere they look? When your holy book tells you to expect to experience horrors in the name of your religion, you’re likely to start hunting for it, even if you don’t realize that’s what you’re doing.
A blog post on Patheos looked at the evangelical persecution complex also, and concluded that there is, in fact, Christian persecution in America. The problem author Benjamin Corey sees, though, is that it’s not atheists and government persecuting Christians here. It’s the political religion that calls itself Christianity that’s persecuting Christians.
As an example, he pointed to the fact that the vice president of Community Foundation was removed from his position after preaching about “love your enemy.” That’s something that political Christians can’t stand hearing; they’re the ones who believe in violence to end violence, and bloodshed to ensure the safety of their people. Corey sees a major difference between true Christians and the political Christians.
Carson doesn’t seem to believe in “love thy neighbor,” or “love thy enemy.” He’s very anti-LGBT equality, and he supports increasing amounts of guns in our homes and neighborhoods. According to The National Review, he said that, despite all the times he’s operated on someone with a gunshot wound, it’s not nearly as bad as having a population that is defenseless against tyranny. That right there is what the gun-rights crowd likes to trumpet, and it directly contributes to our violence problem here.
But most of all, Carson, like other political Christians, preaches that America is systematically wiping out Christianity, even as it finds more ways into our laws and our culture. These people don’t respect the U.S., or the Constitution, the way they claim. Secularism isn’t driving their god out of their lives; they’re still free to believe what they want. They’re still free to attend church, and raise their children in their faith. But that’s not enough for them.
The more that people like Carson bleat this nonsense, the worse the evangelical persecution complex is going to get.