Monday, July 30, 2012

Church Language: Othering

It's Olympic season! I love watching the world's best athletes get out there and kick ass like they do. The commentators have been getting on my nerves a bit, though, as they have occasionally whined about judges scoring Americans unfairly low, or "inflating" non-American scores when said scores seemed fair. One of my Twitter friends linked me to this gem of a tweet:
Dear NBC, ending the night with the French national anthem is kind of a let down. Please work on your programming. Sincerely, an AMERICAN.

The tweeter's profile says, "I love and am loved by Jesus Christ. I love my amazing family and friends, my dog Harriet, my high school girls, good music and Ohio State sports!"

Awkward segue: The church is big on making various groups of people into Others. You know, the scary kind. The different kind.

It starts off relatively reasonably: We, as Christians, take a stand against murder and burning kittens. Awesome. We hate things that hurt people! People who murder or torture adorable balls of fur are evil and deserving of God's wrath!

Then we start building a bridge from there to here via a game of Connect the Hateful Dots. To be completely honest, I'm not entirely sure I can reconstruct the bridge anymore. I just know that it always ends up going through Hitler and landing on Democrats.

I sat through a sermon where the pastor rattled off some made up-sounding statistics about the habits of gay people re: number of sexual partners and diseases carried. The congregation murmured theiramens as the pastor's voice grew louder and louder with each false declaration. Homosexuals were not human in this man's eyes -- they were subhuman, a perversion of God's perfect will. This wasn't a man calmly saying that he had studied the scriptures and concluded that homosexuality was not a part of God's intended design; this was a man who hated homosexuals and consumed whatever reading material he required to "prove" that they were worthy of his hate.

"The gays", as defined by people like that pastor, are by definition outside the church -- they are faceless Others. People in the church are still safe and deserving of your love.

Unless those people affirm homosexuality as an intentional and morally good aspect of God's designed. Those people are equally evil and deserving of scorn.

Oh, also, if you are friends with or attend the same church as one of those gay-affirmers, then you are also morally bankrupt. Guilt by association and all that.

What does that have to do with someone being mad about France? Start with "socialism is evil", go to "France has universal health care, which is socialist" and finally end on, "France is different from America, which is not socialist, therefore I'm super pissed to hear their national anthem this one time."