As I write, in the New Hampshire GOP candidates’ Debate, Gingrich and Perry are attacking governmental assaults on Christianity to great applause.
The problem here is that there’s no vocabulary for discussing this issue.
Nevertheless, the thing itself obviously exists.
We mentioned that George Weigel thought that this useful word was “first coined by a world-class comparative constitutional law scholar, J.H.H. Weiler, himself an Orthodox Jew." [Tim Tebow and Christophobia, By George Weigel, First Things, October 5, 2011]
The locals, whom people tended to think of as "natives" in those days, would persecute the missionaries, sometimes burning them alive.
Of course, today we're much too enlightened to think of Indians and Chinese as “the natives.” They, on the other hand, are still “restless”—enough to persecute Christians, sometimes burning them alive. One of the earliest things I wrote for VDARE.com discussed the case of Graham Stuart Staines, an Australian Missionary who was burned alive with his family, in 1999. [Equal Opportunity Slurs Department: Hindutva, May 16, 2001]
The very earliest thing I wrote for VDARE.com was a Christmas Competition entry in which I mentioned that the War On Christmas in China involves Catholics being beaten with “electric batons”—by which I think they mean something like a cattle prod.
There’s a lot of persecution of Christians around the world nowadays, frequently by Muslims: See Christian s In The Crossfire, by Michelle Malkin, December 21, 2004; and The Martyr of Mosul, By Patrick J. Buchanan June 21, 2007 at 12:00am
In the United States, the persecution tends to be on a much lower level, but it does exist—David Limbaugh (Rush’s brother)wrote an entire book called Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity. He didn’t lack for material. The conservative intellectual Peter Viereck is famous for saying "Catholic baiting is the anti-Semitism of the liberals."
In the passage that’s quoted from, he had earlier said
“Depressing thought: every conformist group has its own equivalent of the scourge of anti-Semitism, a scourge inflicted on any minority it dare not understand for fear of having to think things through.“ [Shame and Glory of the Intellectuals, P 48]
The mistake Viereck made, writing in 1952, was to assume that you had to be minority to be treated this way. Now it’s fashionable to do it to the majority.
Case in point: Stephen G. Bloom’s now infamous Observations From 20 Years of Iowa Life, The Atlantic, December 9, 2011.
Bloom, [email him] a professor of journalism at the University of Iowa, suffers from what appears to be pathological hatred and fear of Christianity. This was demonstrated, as I pointed out, in his trying to carry the Anti-Gospel of “Happy Holidays” to his Iowan students, and in his general attitude. He writes:
“Religion is the glue that binds everyone, whether they're Catholic, Lutheran, or Presbyterian. You can't drive too far without seeing a sign for JESUS or ABORTION IS LEGALIZED MURDER. I'm forever amazed by how often I hear neighbors, co-workers, shoppers, and total strangers talk about religion. In the Hy-Vee grocery store, at neighborhood stop-and-chats, at the local public school, ‘See you at church!’ is the common rejoinder. It's as though the local house of worship were some neighborhood social club — which, of course, it is. A professor I know at the University of Iowa chides her students for sitting in the back of a lecture hall, saying, ‘This isn't church, you know.’”
But what really puts the “phobia” in Bloom’s Christophobia is his memory of an Easter headline in 1994. As James Lileks pointed out, the first online version of the story, and therefore the print edition, says this:
“When my family and I first moved to Iowa, our first Easter morning I read the second-largest newspaper in the state (the Cedar Rapids Gazette) with this headline splashed across Page One: HE HAS RISEN. The headline broke all the rules I was trying to teach my young journalism students: the event was neither breaking nor could it be corroborated by two independent sources. The editors obviously thought that everyone knew who He was, and cared.”
The word for that, aside from words like offensive and blasphemous, is snarky.
If we were to respond in kind, we would point out that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John make four sources.
But never mind. The main thing you need to know is that while professors of journalism talk about corroboration, they are not actually capable of checking facts. No one is in a better position to verify what the Cedar Rapids Gazette said on Easter Sunday, 1994, than a professor of journalism at Iowa State University. But it was the staff at the Gazette who actually did so: See Here’s The Gazette’s Easter Sunday front page in 1994 (plus others) | TheGazette, December 14, 20111
The online version of the Atlantic piece now says this:
“When my family and I first moved to Iowa, our first Easter morning the second-largest newspaper in the state (the Cedar Rapids Gazette) broke all the rules I was trying to teach my young journalism students in its coverage of an event that was neither breaking nor corroborated by two independent sources. An archived edition of the paper shows it with a verse from Matthew 28:5-6 above-the-fold on Page One, along with an illustration of three crosses. The front-page verse — which in its entirety read, "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said." — took up two columns and was played against a story about the murders of six people in the Iowa town of Norwalk.*”
So, here, graphically, is what everyone in Iowa saw:
And here is what Stephen G. Bloom saw in his mind—and reported in the Atlantic Monthly, just about the ultimate in mainstream journalistic respectability. (A mock-up)
It’s no wonder Bloom was lecturing his students on their “In-your-face-religion”.
And it’s no wonder his students didn’t take him seriously.
It’s obviously paranoid in the literal and pathological sense.
And it’s equally obvious that when you’re dealing with an uncontrollable emotional reflex like this, you can’t win. You just have to have to ignore it, politely.
But you can, and must, name it: Christophobia.