Christianophobia in America: Who Has it and What Is Their Goal?
Last week, I defined Christianophobia, showed from the comments of some of my research respondents the reality of this unreasonable hatred and fear, and highlighted some common stereotypes that feed it. Now let’s look at who tends to have Christianophobia and one of their key goals.
Christianophobia plays itself out in America differently from how Islamophobia and homophobia do. The dynamics of Christianophobia also differ from sexism, racism and anti-Semitism. People with Christianophobia are more likely to be secular and politically progressive. They are also more likely to be white, male, highly educated and wealthy — qualities of individuals who tend to have a lot of societal power. That power means Christianophobia manifests itself very differently from how those other types of intolerance do.
Those with Christianophobia, because of their greater societal power, are very well represented in many of America’s cultural institutions: the news media, arts, entertainment and academia. A couple of weeks ago I pointed out how anti-Christian bias can manifest itself in academia, and I believe at least some of that is rooted not merely in a mild aversion to Christianity but in the fullbown Christianophobia of some academics. Likewise, I suspect that anti-Christian bias in the arts, news media and entertainment industry is shaped to some degree by Christianophobia.
If people with Christianophobia play prominent roles in the institutions that do so much to shape our culture, then they are in a positon to shape social attitudes towards Christians. This partially explains why the anti-Christian atmosphere in America seems to be intensifying in recent decades.
Another factor distinguishing the dynamics of Christianophobia in America: The progressive ideology of those with Christianophobia prevents many of them from championing ideas or strategies linked to militant bigotry. I have heard Christians talk about how some opponents of the faith want to come into Christian churches in America and try to force Christians to leave their faith. I saw no evidence of such desires among my respondents. Christians have to do a better job discerning what those with Christianophobia truly desire so we do not waste time tilting at windmills.
So what do those with Christianophobia want to accomplish? One of their major desires is to remove Christians from the public square. Understanding this and knowing that they have the cultural power to pursue such a goal in earnest is important to understand if we are to effectively counter such efforts. Among those with a Christianophobic ideology, there is a deep desire to keep Christians in a home and church corral, so it pays to be on the lookout for efforts to limit or eliminate the opportunities for Christians to influence our society outside of our churches and homes.
For instance, some are seeking to control and alter the values of colleges explicitly formed to promote Christianity. As Matt Staver and Keith Fournier detail, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is seeking to apply legal pressure at the federal level to prevent Christian colleges from “teaching that marriage is a relation of one man and one woman, homosexual conduct is immoral, and the sexual difference between male and female is a given and a gift.” This is a textbook example of attempting to use the government to push one’s values onto those who do not want to accept them.
Limiting the access of Christians to the public square isn’t their only culture-changing aspiration, but it is a major one. My co-author and I discussed more of their goals in our academic book, but understanding this one goal will help Christians more fully understand how to resist them.