How Much They Hate Us, How Little They Know Us
Sikivu Hutchinson is angry. At you, and at me. And it shows. Wow, does it show, in her article yesterday for The Humanist, titled “Keep ‘God’ and Theocrats Out of Our Wombs.”
This is how she describes those who made Alabama’s new anti-abortion law happen. But let’s not leave it at that distance. This is how she describes you. This is what you must be like, as a supporter of unborn life. Hutchinson says you:
- [Commit] atrocities
- [Want women] barefoot, pregnant, and bombed back to the Stone Age
- Are dominionist
- Are bound and determined to hijack women’s rights
- Hound and demonize pregnant women
- Lock and load at the mere mention of “abortionists”
- Think chastity belts are long overdue for a revival
- “Howl, p*ss, and moan” about your “God and country”
- Foment Christian fascism
- Have a deeply misogynist fear of women’s bodies, sexuality and reproductive autonomy
- Live in protected white families
- Systematically benefit from Black, Latino and Indigenous peoples’ poverty, segregation, and criminalization
- Have never had any concern for issues of poverty, child care and social welfare
- Are a theocrat of the religious right
- Are a white fundamentalist Christian
- Are a national cancer
- Promote a dangerous lie of a God-based, biblical morality
- Promote theocracy
- Support amoral patriarchy
All that — nineteen oh-so-nice things she had to say about you and me — in a rant running just 29 sentences long. A “humanist” rant, mind you. (I have trouble getting past the irony in that.) Am I fair to call this “hate”? I’d say it’s hard to deny it.
No Point in Disputing
So I ask, just how much of this is true? As for me, I’m a white Christian in a white family. “Fundamentalist” fits as long as it’s defined by someone whose theological position is considerably to the left of mine. “Religious right” is accurate. These labels fit, yet only to a degree, for they mean very different things to different people.
The rest, though? She’s wrong. Way wrong.
Not that I need to dispute any of it. She’s not making the kind of case that calls for careful debate. Opinion writers may overstate their feelings sometimes, but rage like hers has got to be real. She’s angry, and she hates us. So it’s not the kind of thing you’d answer reasonably, point by point, saying, “Well, let’s slow down a moment and let’s talk about whether ‘dominionist’ really fits.” There’s no chance she’d listen.
She Doesn’t Know Us
But there’s one more thing she’s saying without saying it. If she thinks this is true of you and me, then she doesn’t know us. And what I say about this author is likely true of a whole lot or progressives.
She may not want to know us. She may have assigned us irrevocably to the too-dirty-to-touch pile.
She may not be able to see us for who we are. Her political commitments may blind her to relational realities.
She may be unwilling to see us for who we are, for political reasons again: She might not want to risk finding out her enemies aren’t as awful as she needs them to be.
Or she might not have any conservative Christians in her circle of relationships. This would hardly be unusual. How many hard-core progressives do you and I connect with? Society is segregating all over again, this time ideologically; most obviously in social media but not only there. We’re settling into our separate geographic domains, separate vocations, and especially our separate churches and educational institutions.
One who never spends time with Christians could imagine us as theocratic dominionist patriarchal howling moaning misogynist lying cancerous fascists hounding and demonizing pregnant women while caring about no one but ourselves. You could stereotype us that way from a distance, as in fact some do — as if stereotyping were a virtue for liberal progressives. But you couldn’t get that impression hanging around folks at the church I attend. I expect that’s true for your fellowship, too.
We Dare Not Respond in Kind
So how to respond? Argument won’t do it; they won’t listen. I say we go make friends. Let progressives see who Christians really are. Not all will be open to our friendship, as I’ve already said — but some will. It won’t change much in the short run — except it might change a life: Someone could come to know Jesus Christ. As Christians, that’s still our primary mission, isn’t it?
And “if the world hates you,” said Jesus, “know that it has hated me before it hated you.” We’re in good company. But no; that’s too huge an understatement. We’re in the hands of our perfectly good God, who loved the world enough to give His Son for us all.
I grieve for the way Sikivu Hutchinson misunderstands Christianity. But I refuse to be angry at her for it. She gets us wrong, but that’s far from the worst of it. The worst is how she gets our good, loving and gracious God wrong — and how much she’s missing as a result.
Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream, and the author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ. Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor. Follow The Stream at @Streamdotorg.