Wannabe Christian Victims

By Jeffrey Weiss

The accusation is most often hurled from the right side of the political spectrum at the left, sometimes with full justification: Too many Americans have become wannabe victims, quick to claim any criticism as an attack.

But in the past week, I spotted two examples of putative conservatives crying wolf. And both examples have religious overtones.

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Start with a column on the conservative CatholicCulture.org website, by site editor Phil Lawler. He's complaining that, in the moments immediately after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, priests were turned away. Here's a nugget:

Doctors and nurses were welcome at the bombing scene. Firefighters and police officers were welcome. But Catholic priests, who might have offered the solace of the sacraments, were not. "Catholics need not apply." That slogan was familiar in Boston years ago, before Irish and Italian immigrants took over control of the city. Now, after decades of decline in Catholic influence, the attitude has returned.

He got his information, he said, from a column in the Wall Street Journal. Sure enough, there was a piece by Jennifer Graham. It begins:

The heart-wrenching photographs taken in the moments after the Boston Marathon bombings show the blue-and-yellow jackets of volunteers, police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, even a three-foot-high blue M&M. Conspicuously absent are any clerical collars or images of pastoral care.

Apparently a bunch of priests from nearby Catholic churches -- this is Boston, after all -- rushed to the scene seeking to offer spiritual succor to their faithful. Only to be turned away from the actual blast site. She quotes a priest who had been turned away; "Once it was clear we couldn't get inside, we came back here to St. Clement's, set up a table with water and oranges and bananas to serve people, and helped people however we could."

To which Lawler said: "Doesn't that nicely capture what a once-Catholic, now-secular culture expects from the Church? It's not essential for priests to administer the sacraments; in fact it's unwelcome. But if they could just stay out of the way, and give people something to eat, that would be fine."

Proof that anti-Catholicism has wormed its way back into American culture? You have got to be kidding.

Did you watch any of the video of the blast scene? Chaos and danger and hundreds of wounded for whom any delay in care could have meant the difference between life and death. Anybody who rushed to help get the wounded to safety and medical attention were welcome. Prayer dispensers -- Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster -- not so much.

Yeah, I know some Catholics want to claim that their sacraments are so important that an exception should have been made. But to non-Catholics, that's just so much abracadabra. Many faiths have their own rituals for the dying just as important as them as the Last Rites are to Catholics. And first responders had no time to sort them out.

Yes, there were victims in Boston that terrible day. None of them happened to be Catholic priests.

My second example is pegged to a small news story that, for a moment, was a big deal in the conservative Christian blogosphere. The Southern Baptist Convention news website was being blocked on military computers because of "hostile content."

Surely this was yet another example of the government's war on Christianity? Nope. Bob Smietana of The Tennessean chased the truth down: Turns out the SBC website had been infected with malware and the Pentagon's cybersecurity defense system was doing exactly what we'd all hope it would.

So it's a non-story. Or maybe a cautionary tale about jumping to conclusions. Or maybe not. Tony Perkins' Family Research Council sends out a regular email newsletter commenting on the news of the day. Here's how one started last week:

While the rest of the world is hunting down real terrorists, the Obama military is still targeting Christians! That's why yesterday's reports of religious censorship were so believable. Emails had been streaming into Fox News from service members across the country who all shared the same complaint: the Southern Baptist Convention website had been blocked on their bases for "hostile content." When Defense officials tried to pass off the problem as a computer glitch, most people--including myself--thought, "Here we go again."

It goes on:

Turns out, it was faulty wiring -- a hiccup in the website security that's since been corrected. And while the flap can't be pinned on the Obama administration's hostility toward faith, it did reveal plenty about the current military environment...

Leave aside that the FRC's complaints are usually about the failure of government agencies to give an unconstitutional nod to one particular sort of Christianity. In this case, the FRC acknowledges the accusation wasn't true. But apparently, that doesn't matter! It's still proof of government hostility!

Conservatives are supposed to stand for truth against relativism. But that seems not to be the play in this case. Truth that doesn't fit a predetermined narrative is stood on its head and square-peg-crammed into a round hole.

Again, this is a narrative of victimhood. A victim is entitled to anger. Entitled, in fact to justice and reparations. And these folks surely want to claim victimhood and all the rights thereof.

This is a world with real victims. Even real Christian victims. I wonder how the Egyptian Coptics in Cairo who are actually dying for their faith would view the boo-hoo-ing by these American Christians.

Feel their pain? I bet not.

Jeffrey Weiss is a RealClearReligion columnist from Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyWeissRCR.

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