I was recently watching The Rosie Show and she discussed and showed Rick Perry’s Strong video. I had not seen this video. I’ve heard rumblings about Rick Perry and his politics, but in this beginning primary season I have sort of stayed away from the Republican debates until candidates are thinned out closer to polling time. I admit, it is not the smartest political choice on my behalf, but at this time, watching the Republicans get bashed by the liberal media depresses me and makes me feel bad for being a white, middle class, Christian, Republican. If you think this is a bad reason, look no further than Rick Perry’s “Strong” video and its strong You Tube response. It is reportedly the most “disliked” video in You Tube history, which is saying a lot considering some of the lack of talent and lack of taste in uploaded videos these days.
Rick Perry’s video made me uncomfortable for a variety of reasons, most obviously because I am a born-again Christian who is a member of the Republican party (but I do land on the more moderate side, often referring to myself as a liberal Republican, I guess as opposed to a conservative Democrat). I get uncomfortable because I too feel that not only Obama (as Perry states in his video), but Democrats (and “liberals” in general) have continued to escalate a war on religion, specifically, born-again Christians. As a Christian, I do worry that someday I will no longer be allowed to openly attend church, discuss my religion at the workplace, say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, have pastors who can be arrested for refusing to marry a gay couple, and no longer be allowed to say “Merry Christmas” in the month of December. This may sound extreme to some, but it really is not that far-fetched.
What is happening in America today is that as some people are being given more freedom, others are being given less. I will admit that the public voices “representing” Christianity today are voices that I too would like to give less freedom, however, laws and policies and cultural decisions being made to silence all Christian voices are hurting more “normal” people in this country, the general American public who don’t have microphones and podcasts and television platforms. People who don’t bully those who are gay or stand outside military funerals with cruel signs or ban the reading of Harry Potter in schools. These are normal, working class people, who believe in the truth of the Bible and want to attend church every Sunday morning (or Saturday night, like me). These are people you work alongside, grocery shop with, carpool with, and have never heard a hateful, anti-like comment from before. These are the people actually being hurt in the process of shutting down public – albeit disrespectful and ignorant – voices.
People hate what they don’t know. Until someone can have empathy for a different viewpoint, growth and unity can never happen. This is why the public right-wing “Christian” voices can be so hateful toward a gay person struggling to accept him/herself and feel welcomed by society. This is also why SNL can make fun of Christians, because they don’t know the real people attending church down the street. We are an American culture making opinions and laws based on exaggerated stereotypes. This has to stop. It can be stopped by ending hate on all sides – right and left – and seeking to know the other. Do not fear what you don’t understand, seek to learn about it. I am not asking everyone to agree with everyone else. I am not even advocating the “live and let live” philosophy. I am merely suggesting we step out of our box and understand the other. You don’t have to agree and support gay marriage, or even vote for it, to end bullying and hatred. You also don’t have to believe in God to understand that religious people can voice opinions too and that doesn’t make them hateful, ignorant, bigoted opinions.
I hope for a culture where all voices are heard and respected. Where gay couples can get married in a cooperating religious place, but pastors have the right to refuse without fear of hate or arrest. Where a woman can be a feminist and pro-life without feeling like a fraud. Where saying “I’m gay” does not exclude you from an opportunity and saying “I’m Christian” does not make you ignored. This is the kind of America I want to live in and that I believe is what our forefathers and mothers dreamed for us. This is the American vision that I will vote for and hope someday to be reflected in a presidential candidate.