Friday, January 31, 2014

Oklahoma Christians Support Satanic Monument

It sometimes seems as if Christians get a bad rap here on Augoeides, for the simple reason that the stories in the news usually feature voices from a loud minority of extremists that, as an occultist, I feel obligated to push back against. However, most Christians in fact don't see themselves as oppressed by the mere existence of other religious beliefs, and understand very clearly that religious freedom isn't free. That is, they know that if they want the freedom to practice their beliefs, they must afford the same liberty to those who follow other spiritual paths.

The recent "Satanic Monument" controversy going on in Oklahoma is a perfect example. While the Christian voices in the media overwhelmingly oppose the monument, Salon has an article up today pointing out that many local Christians support it on religious freedom grounds. That is, they get the point that their extremist brethren have completely missed - religious freedom means religious freedom for everyone.

The announcement sparked outrage from Oklahoma lawmakers, but some residents apparently support the Satanic Temple’s wish to build a statue. “It’s really encouraging. It’s really moving. We do get a lot of messages that start out with the caveat, ‘You know I am a Christian.’ However, and they explain that they appreciate what we’re doing,” explained Lucien Greaves, a spokesperson for the New York based organization. “We’ve gotten a lot of messages from people saying that they served or are serving in the armed forces, and they feel that these values are exactly what we fought for.”

News 9 quoted some residents who supported the idea. “This is kind of what America was based on, freedom of religion. And for us to say whether you believe in it or not, that it shouldn’t be there, is kind of wrong,” said one resident, Bailee Boyce.

To some extent I understand why the media seeks out extreme voices. It makes for bigger controversies and better stories. I've mentioned this before, but hardly anybody realizes that the Westboro Baptist Church is barely a church at all - it has about 20 members, all from one family, and thus is smaller than the local Twin Cities OTO body. But from all the press they get, you would think they were a much larger organization rather than an insignificant fringe faction. The problem there is that chasing such stories results in non-Christians conflating the entire religion with the Poor Oppressed Christian minority, which simply is not the case.

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