Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Sociologist George Yancey examines bias against Bible-believing Christians

So Many Christians, So Few Lions by George Yancey, PhD

So Many Christians, So Few Lions

There are three posts in the series, and I think these are all worth reading.

Let’s see the introduction to the series from the first post.

Over the next three blog entries, I am going to discuss the content of my latest book –So Many Christians, So Few Lions – Christianophobia in the United States. Actually the book has not come out yet, but will officially come out later this month. Obviously the focus of the book will be the nature of anti-Christian attitudes in the United States. In this first entry, I look at the contours of a basic level of animosity towards conservative Christians in the United States. My next entry will qualitatively explore the nature of Christianophobic attitudes. In my final entry I will consider the implications of this work, as well as other research and social events, for what it means about this type of anti-religious bigotry. For the balance of these blog entries, I will define Christianophobia as unreasonable hatred or fear of Christians.

The first post is here.

Here’s a snippet that explains which segment of our society is opposed to Christians who take the Bible seriously:

In another research project that I am currently working on, we asked college teachers how they would define a fundamentalist and how they would see a fundamentalist as different from other Protestants. Beyond basic stereotypical descriptions, these individuals tended to label fundamentalists as those who believed the Bible to be the literal word of God. According to the 2012 ANES, about a third of Americans have such a belief. If the respondents in the ANES use a similar definition of fundamentalism then the animosity exhibited by them is not directed at an extreme Christian fringe but against a substantial portion of the population.

What is as important as the extent of this animosity is who tends to possess this animosity. Those who listed Christian fundamentalists a standard deviation below the mean of the other groups are 79.4 percent white, 47.6 percent with a bachelor degree, 64.5 percent make at least $50,000 a year and 29.2 percent make at least $100,000 a year. All of these numbers are significantly higher than the percentages in the population without this animosity. Thus, those with anti-Christian hostility are whiter, better educated and wealthier than others in our society. These are majority group qualities indicating that those with anti-Christian animosity have more per-capita social power than the average person.

Remember that we not only explored animosity towards conservative Christians but also animosity towards other social groups. I found that those with relative hostility towards atheists are older, non-white, undereducated, political conservatives. Those with relative hostility towards Muslims tend to be older, nonblack political conservative males. Those with relative hostility towards Mormons are younger, non-whites political progressives. This provides some complexity to this discussion of potential religious bias and bigotry. For example, there appear to be just as many people with anti-Muslim hostility as there are with hostility towards conservative Christians. However those with potential Islamophobia do not seem to have a great deal of per-capita political power, unlike those with potential Christianophobia.

The second post is here.

Here’s a snippet that discusses whether the group identified in post one dehumanize Christians:

Several researchers and social thinkers have written about dehumanization. But the best conceptualization of dehumanization comes from Nick Haslem. He identified two types of dehumanization: animalistic and mechanical. A cursory reading of the answers from the respondents indicates that animalistic dehumanization fits their responses better than mechanical dehumanization. He identified five qualities of animalistic dehumanization – lack of culture instead of civility, coarseness instead of refinement, amorality instead of moral sensibility, irrationality instead of logic and childlikeness instead of maturity.

I do not have the space to explore all five of these qualities within the answers of my respondents (I did such an exploration in the book). But I will look at the last characteristic which is the notion that Christians are childlike instead of mature. Indeed my respondents tended to paint a picture of Christians being immature individuals led by powerful, manipulative leaders.

The leaders are deceptive and power hungry individuals who invoke “God” in a political sense to rally their supporters…They play to people’s emotions, daily. (Female, aged 26-35 with Bachelor degree)

Their movement’s leaders are the worst type of manipulative authoritarian scum and their millions of followers are sad, weak people who are all too willing to give up their self-respect and liberty for a fantasy. (Male, aged 26-35 with Bachelor degree)

In this way the respondents take away the agency of Christians by suggesting that they are weak individuals unable to resist the desires of evil leaders. Rather the respondents support an image of Christians as being children misled by bad parents.

This type of stereotyping fits quite well with some of the insults that my respondents used in describing Christians. For example, some variation of the term “brainwash” came up 137 times, from 125 respondents. Almost every time the term was used, it was to note the inability of Christians to think for themselves. For example, a female, aged 56-65 with a bachelor degree wrote, “I believe that this group is in general poorly educated and often brainwashed to the point of seeing no perspective but their own. Many allow themselves to become tools of charismatic, self serving leaders because they have been deprived of the education and tools to ever think otherwise.” This respondent, like many other respondents, have a stereotype of Christians reflecting them as unthinking imbeciles. It is a dehumanizing stereotype creating an image of Christians as not having full human capacities.

Beyond the notion of brainwashing, 66 of our respondents use the terms sheep and 5 of our respondents used the term lemmings to describe Christians as well.

[…]These numbers seem low considering that I have a sample of almost three thousand respondents; however, it should be noted that these comments comparing Christians to animals are unprompted. (It is also instructive to consider which terms were not used at all. For example, ape or gorilla was not used by any of the respondents to describe conservative Christians.) Closed ended questions providing respondents with the opportunity to characterize conservative Christians in animalistic terms would likely garner a nontrivial level of support. The comments about Christians as passive animals, combined with the relative willingness of the respondents to use the term brainwashed, occur often enough to provide some confidence that characterizations of Christians as unthinking passive followers are accepted within subcultures with high levels of Christianophobic animosity. If there is any doubt that there is an animalistic element to the type of dehumanizing occurring among my respondents, the use of these animals clearly indicates that Christians are not always seen as human.

The third post is here.

Here’s a snippet showing how this bias against Christians manifests itself:

It is well established that academics tend to be more politically progressive and secular than the general population. It is obvious that they are highly educated. So academia theoretically should be a place where we would find a higher than normal level of Christianophobia. This Christianophobia may manifest in discrimination against conservative Christians. A few years ago I conducted research suggesting that this is the case. I found that academics were willing to discriminate against a prospective candidate for an academic position if they found out that the candidate is a conservative Protestant. In fact, they were more willing to discriminate against conservative Protestants than against any other social group included in my survey. Their willingness to discriminate against those Protestants was even more powerful than their willingness to discriminate against political conservatives. Religious intolerance trumps potential political intolerance among academics.

Of course simply because academics state that they are open to discriminating against conservative Protestants does not mean that they actually engage in such discrimination. A survey is not sufficient evidence. However, Rothman and Lichter conducted research documenting that academics with socially conservative beliefs tend to be located in lower status occupational positions even after controlling for demographic variables and their level of productivity. If conservative Protestants are more likely to have socially conservative beliefs than other academics, a reasonable belief, then this research suggests systematic evidence that there are occupational disadvantages in academia to having conservative Christian beliefs. Since academics have a willingness to discriminate against those Christians, this disadvantage cannot merely be due to their inability to do science, as the common stereotype of Christians seems to imply, but discrimination from academics who may be motivated by Christianophobia is likely an important factor.

Buy the book if you find this a useful tool for your own discussions.

You may also like to watch this lecture featuring Dr. Yancey.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , ,

NHS appeals decision allowing midwives to conscientiously object to performing abortions

What happens when you let a secular government take over health care provisioning?

Here is a story from the BBC about the state-run health care system in the UK.

Excerpt:

The UK’s highest court will hear legal arguments on whether midwives have a right to refuse to take any part in abortion procedures on moral grounds.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde appealed to the Supreme Court after judges in Scotland said Roman Catholic midwives had a right to conscientious objection.

[…]Five judges in London will hear the case. A ruling is expected next year.

Ms Doogan, from Garrowhill in Glasgow, and Mrs Wood, from Clarkston in East Renfrewshire, were employed as labour ward co-ordinators at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

[…]This landmark case tests the balance between those whose religious beliefs do not allow them to play any part whatsoever in abortion, and the health authorities’ duty under the law to enable women to have an abortion. Many Christian groups back the midwives’ position.

The midwives’ counsel, Gerry Moynihan QC, told the court in the women’s earlier successful appeal that the law was clear that the right to conscientious objection contained in the Abortion Act was intended to apply to the whole team whose involvement was necessary to achieve the procedure.

If the Supreme Court upholds the midwives’ earlier successful appeal, it could set a legal precedent, allowing other midwives who object to abortion to take the same stance.

The Royal College of Midwives and the women’s charity British Pregnancy Advisory Service have both warned that any such ruling could have severe implications for the care of women choosing to terminate their pregnancy.

The BPAS is the largest abortion provider in the UK. I blogged before about their leader, Ann Furedi, who supports sex-selection abortions. I thought then that sex-selection abortions was the worst thing about abortion, but now I see that she would actually force her moral views on other people, compelling them by the power of government to act against their beliefs. There is something deep inside me that just recoils from making a person do something that they think is morally wrong. But I guess pro-abortion people don’t share my concern.

When I blogged before about these two midwives when they won their appeal case, I wrote this:

If the health care system were private, then it would be easy for midwives to find another company to work for that did not violate their consciences. But when the government runs the whole health care system, where are you supposed to go? They are a monopoly and they make the rules. Yet another reasons for Christians to vote for smaller government. In a free market, if you don’t want to buy something from one store, you can go to another store. There is competition. But where are these nurses supposed to go? They are midwives, and the government and the courts make the rules in a government-run health care system.

This is why we need to keep the government OUT of health care. When you work for a government monopoly, and they want you to do something that you don’t want to do, you have two choices – do what they want or leave the country. If the only health care system is government-run, then if you want to practice health care, you have to leave. That seems unfair to me.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Students sue school for stopping them from praying during recess

Story from Todd Starnes of Fox News.

Excerpt:

Chase Windebank, a senior at Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs. (Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom)

Christian students at a Colorado public high school were told they could no longer meet to pray, sing religious songs or discuss religious topics during free time – because such activity violated the U.S. Constitution, a lawsuit filed in federal court alleges.

Chase Windebank is a senior at Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs. Three years ago he started meeting together informally with his classmates for prayer and religious fellowship. The young people would meet in an unoccupied choir room to sing songs like “Amazing Grace” and discuss the issues of the day from a religious perspective.

But all that changed on Sept. 29th when Chase was summoned to the office of Assistant Principal James Lucas.

Chase Windebank is a senior at Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs. Three years ago he started meeting together informally with his classmates for prayer and religious fellowship. The young people would meet in an unoccupied choir room to sing songs like “Amazing Grace” and discuss the issues of the day from a religious perspective.“He was told that he could no longer pray with his fellow students during free time because of the separation of church and state,” said Jeremy Tedesco, an attorney representing the teenager.

Tedesco is with Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that specializes in handling religious liberty cases.

“He was told that he could pray before the school day begins or after the school day ends but he could not do it during the school day,” Tedesco told me.

To make sure Chase got the message – he was hauled into Principal Kolette Back’s office the following day where it was “reaffirmed that his religious speech could not take place during the open time” known as a “Seminar” period.

The lawsuit states: “Defendants Back and Lucas stated that because of the separation of church and state and because they regarded the Seminar period as instructional time, they were banning students’ discussion of issues of the day from a religious perspective during the open time of Seminar period.”

Pine Creek is a part of Academy School District No. 20. A spokesperson for the district confirmed that the group was told to disband in accordance with state law.

It’s not just Christians who are facing sanctions from education administrators, it’s conservatives, too.

Excerpt:

In the wake of a standing room only event with conservative leader Bay Buchanan on the topic of immigration, the Virginia Tech Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) Chapter has been informed that they will not receive funding for the next two semesters.

Lauren McCue, the Chair of her YAF Chapter, requested funding from the Student Budget Board and received it for her club’s event with Bay Buchanan. Buchanan was the youngest person ever to serve as Treasurer of the United States, author of two books, and has an extensive career in public policy. The morning after Buchanan spoke, the event made the front page of the school newspaper—apparently administrators didn’t like the “controversy” and “stir” that it caused on campus.

Lauren was also told that their fliers went “too far” because the event was advertised as “Alien Invasion: How Illegal Immigration is Hurting America,” and while the fliers drew in a large crowd, it was “offensive” to some student groups.

Apparently, the discussion on immigration with the former Treasurer of the United States irked some liberal administrators at Virginia Tech. The Student Budget Board contacted Lauren to tell her that her club would not be funded for the next two semesters because her event “violated the principles of community.”

Now, I’m pretty sure that these administrators have no problem with secular leftist groups doing events that offend conservatives.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

British Columbia law society votes against accrediting evangelical law school

Map of Canada

Map of Canada

Global News reports.

Excerpt:

The Law Society of British Columbia has voted against accrediting a proposed law school at Trinity Western University.

In a binding decision, 74 per cent of lawyers voted against TWU’s program, with 8,039 ballots cast in total – more than 60 per cent of all lawyers eligible to vote.

The society says the decision means that “the proposed law school at Trinity Western University is not an approved faculty of law for the purpose of the Law Society’s admission program.”

The vote was conducted by mail and required a two-thirds majority, with a turnout more than 33.3 per cent.

CBC has the reaction from Trinity:

The president of Trinity Western University says he is uncertain if the new law school will open as scheduled in 2016 following the recent vote by the B.C. Law Society members to reject the faith-based institution.

TWU president Bob Kuhn expressed his frustration with the recent vote as he left a ratification meeting at the law society on Friday morning.

“They had to choose between the principles upon which they made the initial decision and the popularity of that decision among lawyers in the province,” says Kuhn.

“We’re disappointed of course they chose the latter. But that’s the reality of people in an elected position.”

British Columbia is now the third province, after Ontario and Nova Scotia, to officially reject the university’s law school.

Kuhn says it’s not clear whether the Christian university will move ahead with its 2016 opening date, and the school will decide in the coming weeks whether to file a judicial review.

The board members of the B.C. Law Society voted 25 to one with four abstentions to ratify the results of a referendum announced yesterday rejecting the accreditation of a Trinity Western University’s law school.

More than 8,000 of the society’s 13,530 members voted earlier this month in a special referendum to overturn the board’s decision earlier this year to accredit the faith-based law school.

Critics oppose the new law school’s accreditation because Trinity Western students must sign a Christian covenant that states sexual relations are to be confined within the bounds of a marriage between a man and a woman.

Trinity Western Law School has a rule that says that students are expect not to engage in extramarital sex – regardless of sexual orientation, which is in keeping with what the Bible teaches. And the law society has decided that this teaching should disqualify a person from practicing law. What is objectionable about this rule? Well, the people who voted against it would be condemned by it. And so they seek to remove the influence of anyone who believes in that rule. Times change, but human nature doesn’t change. If you don’t want God, you try to silence anyone who reminds you of that fact. It’s also a reminded that secularism isn’t based in anything that science tells us or history tells us or any kind of evidence. It’s about morality. It’s about denying the authority of the moral law. That’s why people reject God, and intimidate those who don’t reject God.

I think this is a good reminder to Christian parents in the United States about why it is important to have some sort of vision for your children. If we don’t get advanced degrees, then we leave these decisions to the secular bigots. We are either going to take having an influence seriously or we are going to lose the power to have an influence. Do you have a plan to counter this?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

City of Houston demands that pastors hand over all sermons on homosexuality

Houston's openly gay mayor, Annise Parker

Houston’s openly gay mayor, Annise Parker

Fox News has the story and the backstory, too.

Excerpt:

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

“The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christina Holcomb said in a statement. “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

ADF, a nationally-known law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is representing five Houston pastors. They filed a motion in Harris County court to stop the subpoenas arguing they are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

“Political and social commentary is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “It is protected by the First Amendment.”

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa.  The city council approved the law in June.

The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.

However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities.

After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors.

The pastors were not part of the lawsuit. However, they were part of a coalition of some 400 Houston-area churches that opposed the ordinance. The churches represent a number of faith groups – from Southern Baptist to non-denominational.

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” said ADF attorney Erik Stanley.  “This is designed to intimidate pastors.”

Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons.

Why is it that people on the secular left are so comfortable with bringing in the government to threaten, intimidate and coerce those who disagree with them? Could it be that they know that what they are doing is morally wrong, and have to force others to celebrate it so their guilty consciences will be appeased? After all, you don’t see chaste people marching around in pride parades, or demanding government force people to celebrate chastity. We know we are right, and opposition to chastity doesn’t bother us. Our consciences are clean.

Well, the ADF is on this Houston case, and that’s a good thing. Seems like anywhere Christians are under attack, the ADF is there to defend us. If you want to keep up with this story, I recommend subscribing to the Alliance Defending Freedom podcast and the Family Research Council Daily and Weekly podcasts.

 

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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