Fear of a Post-Christian Planet

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  June 27, 2011 — 75 Comments

As I was putting together a roundup of stories for today, I noticed an ugly thread running through them all. A unifying ethos of fear, intolerance, ignorance, and hate towards any understanding or practice that fell outside a very narrow interpretation of Christian monotheism. Of a “Christian” America and a “Christian” West. They are all very different stories, but they all seem to be about enforcing an increasingly tenuous status quo, desperate sandbagging against a post-Christian ethos in the West.

“…a post-Christian world is one where Christianity is no longer the dominant civil religion, but one that has, gradually over extended periods of time, assumed values, culture, and worldviews that are not necessarily Christian (and further may not necessarily reflect any world religion’s standpoint). Generally, this can therefore mean the loss of Christianity’s monopoly, if not its followers, in otherwise Christian societies.”

This is no easy transition, and resistance to it takes many forms. From accusations of “gnosticism” towards the progressive Christian Wild Goose festival, to the clear cutting of forest on the San Francisco Peaks because the politicians, government officials, and business interests, don’t (or simply can’t) acknowledge the concept of sacred land. The push-back can be as simple as someone shoving hate literature through the door of Pagan-owned shops, or as horrifying as a brutal racially-motivated attack against a Native family, seemingly condoned by local police.

Johnny Bonta was knocked unconscious with a bat, his nose and sinus cavities broken and bleeding, with stab wounds on his neck. Lisa said Jacob Cassell taunted the family as the sirens approached, telling them, “You hear those cops coming? They’re not going to help you. My daddy is a cop in this town, and nothing is going to happen to me. You f***ing n*****s are going to jail.” When Lyon County Sheriff’s officers arrived, they took statements and began filling out police reports with Cassell and his friends, but they did not take statements from any of the victims. When Lisa asked why they were not being questioned for a statement, no one responded. “They ignored us,” she said, before she suffered a seizure and required medical attention.

Why? Because for an unjust social and political structure to remain standing it must forever patrol its boundaries and make sure all perceived threats (real or not) are dealt with. All possible areas of rebellion must be reminded that they are subservient to this order. As those who are most invested in seeing this order, this “Christian” civilization, sustained start to see total dominance slip through their fingers the more reactionary and fear-mongering their rhetoric becomes.

“This “freedom” will include much more than a perpetual pansexual pagan party. It will, and already does, include libel, slander, intimidation, corruption of youth, revolt in congregations, suppression of parental rights, revision of language, disease, loss of employment and loss of life. […]  Have we already reached a tipping point where only catastrophe can bring renewal? The sages among us – those “haters” and “bigots” who keep trying to sound the alarm – need to stay focused and not lose hope. We must keep educating others that this is not a civil-rights issue, that we have not gained freedom, but instead are selling ourselves into bondage. Most of all, we must not give up the fight, because only God knows the outcome.”

I’m sure it will surprise none of you that the author of the above quote, Linda Harvey, has penned one anti-Pagan book, and contributed to another. Naturally all those who are victims of this rhetoric, this violence, are told that it will all stop once we do one simple thing. As a spokesperson for Texas governer Rick Perry’s upcoming faith-rally “The Response” said: “There’s acceptance and that there’s love and that there’s hope if people will seek out the living Christ.” That’s a very certain version of the “living Christ” as the “gnostic” attendees of the Wild Goose festival will tell you.

The future isn’t about dominance, but about coexistence. Many faiths and philosophies sitting at the table, instead of one (or two) faith groups telling everyone else what the agenda is. The numbers are shifting, generational plate tectonics slowly changing the old religious order. The near future will continue to be numerically dominated by Christian adherents, but they’ll soon lose their unified monopoly on social and political agendas. Alongside the accepted Christians-Catholics-Jews tri-faith understanding that emerged in the early 20th century will be the Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans, atheists, practitioners of indigenous religions, and yes, Muslims. To quote Leonard Cohen, democracy is coming.

Despite the violence and madness, I’m an optimist at heart. I believe we can find an accord. That there is a table big enough for all of us to sit at. That all voices can be heard and respected. Right now though, we’re living through the fear of a post-Christian planet.

Jason Pitzl-Waters