This post is probably going to make some people very angry. I do NOT apologize for the views I am about to present. All I ask is that you read the entire post and THINK about it before making a judgment.
I grew up raised Southern Baptist. While our church put on some sort of Christmas program every year, it was very rare to ever hear more than one verse of any given Christmas carol. (This always bothered me. Even during regular services, at most the first, second, and fourth verses of hymns were sung. The third verse was almost always omitted. Was getting everyone out by a certain time so they could go eat or watch football really more important than singing the full message intended by a hymn’s lyricist?)
Because of this practice, I remained unaware of the second verse of the carol “O Holy Night” until I heard a recording on the radio as an adult. (I don’t remember this carol being printed in our hymnals, and the verse was never included in the sheet music copies the choir leader had.)
One particular line in the second verse bothered me very much for a long time: “And in His Name, all oppression shall cease.” The reason this grated on me was and still is that, as things currently stand, this line is a lie (or at best, wishful thinking). More oppression has been committed throughout history in the Name of Christ than I care to know of. Some oppression is still committed, even here in the United States, in the name of Christ.
(In case you missed it, THAT was the statement I figure will piss people off. Please stay with this to the end, because I have a proposal to CHANGE that fact and make the song line ring true.)
Before I wrote this post, I decided to dig into the historical context of the carol. The original French poem “Midnight, Christians,” was written in 1843 by Placide Cappeau, a professed atheist. He was commissioned to write it for a celebration of the renovation of the church organ in Roquemaure. The carol music “O Holy Night” was written for the poem in 1847 by Adolphe Adam. The English version we know today was written in 1855 by Unitarian minister John Dwight Sullivan.
For a comparison of the original poem, the literal translation, and the two current versions of the lyrics, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Holy_Night
Given the source (Sullivan) of the line I find troublesome, I am led to believe that it was hopeful rather than a statement of fact.
The fact remains, that much oppression has been committed in the name of Christ. The Inquisition comes immediately to mind. It was devised as a means to force the proselytization of Muslims and Jews to Catholicism, and to ensure the “purity” of their conversions. Basically, Europeans told Jews and Muslims to convert or get out. (That’s right, the Inquisition spread across ALL of Europe, not just Spain.) They then persecuted and oppressed these people, using torture and other methods to force confessions of heresy. This allowed the rulers of Catholic nations and representatives of the Holy Roman Church to execute their captives for not being Catholic/Christian (or not Catholic enough) and seize their property and assets.
However, that is ancient history. Oppression still happens in this country today. Although not as vocal as they were in the past few decades, there are still large groups of anti-Semitic Christians. Not as much oppression is committed by this group any more, so much as just hating Jews and blaming all the world’s woes on them. The surest way to piss THEM off is to remind them that Jesus was a Jew.
Next up are the Christians who not only seek to deny equal rights and legal protections to the LBGT community, but would see them criminalized. There are even those who endorse acts of violence against anyone non-heterosexual. Slowly, some legal battles are being won to gain those rights and protections, but it remains a long, hard battle. The sheer amount of hate and vitriol toward these people which spews from some of those who profess to love Christ is quite sickening.
By the same token, Muslims in this country are oppressed and persecuted. It is even considered by some to be the height of Patriotism to hate anyone connected to Islam.
Both of these hatreds are borne of fear: fear of those different. Gay haters fear that children will be “corrupted” or that non-heterosexuals will try to convert THEM. Some even are foolish enough to fear that allowing same-sex marriages will devalue and de-sanctify their own marriages. I honestly do not understand this fear. I’ve been married for 24 years. If my brother-in-law were allowed to marry his partner of 30 years, how would that harm my marriage or make it any less?
For those who claim that allowing gays to raise children will result in turning the children gay, I say your logic does not stand. The majority of non-heterosexual people were raised in heterosexual homes.
The hatred toward Muslims in this country continues to grow. (The only Muslim I can think of that most Americans actually LIKED was Mohammed Ali; and he converted to Islam because of Christian-led oppression of the negro race during his youth.) Most people automatically assume that ALL Muslims are terrorists or support terrorism. This just is not true. If it were, this country would have fallen to internal war years ago.
One may ask how Muslims are oppressed. Hate crimes come to mind, but the more wide-spread oppression comes in the form of trying to make these AMERICAN CITIZENS feel unwelcome in their own homes. (Yes, most of the Muslims in America are citizens, either by birth or immigration, but citizens nonetheless.) Their persecutors may say, “Well, THEY started it by hating America and trying to impose Sharia law.” I say, “How do you KNOW they hate America? Have they told you so? Have you asked? What evidence do you have that ALL American Muslims want Sharia law? I’m sorry, but I just haven’t seen it.”
Fear, always fear.
My fellow Christians, I exhort you to consider the following scriptures and apply them to your treatment of those different from you, whether by race, sexual preference, or by faith:
For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt no bear false witness, thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. ~ Roman 13:9-10 KJV*
The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. ~NIV**
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. ~ 1st John 3:15 KJV*
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. ~ NIV**
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. ~ 1st John 4:18 KJV*
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. ~ NIV**
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? ~ 1st John 4:20 KJV*
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar, for anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. ~ NIV**
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. ~ 2nd Timothy 1:7 KJV*
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. ~ NIV**
*KJV=King James Version
**NIV=New International Version