On Vanderbilt’s campus, Christianity is under attack.
As a campus, we have built a community on diversity and equality. This diversity, though, is only possible with mutual respect and tolerance. That same respect doesn’t seem to extend to Christianity. I am all for respectful tolerance of everyone; however, no one should stand for a culture of hypocrisy that singles out one group. At least on campus, equality is mostly attainable, and is a goal we should strive to achieve.
People often talk about Christianity as an oppressive force in America, similar to white supremacy or sexism. Parts of this structure of oppression, such as antagonism towards minorities, must be addressed and examined. Yet, a problem arises when our campus conflates Christian privilege with an anti-Christian necessity. In this constant striving for equality and diversity, people often perverse the goal to become something vengeful–to balance out the past with the future, as if the experiences of separate individuals can be equated and remedied.
The goal should instead be to work towards the medium of equality and peace that we publicly extol so much. Unjust antagonism towards Christians accomplishes exactly the opposite.
First, from a linguistic view, there is no vocabulary for being anti-Christian. On Wikipedia’s list of anti-religious terms, both “anti-Christian” and “Christophobia” link to a related page; the terms are so unused that they don’t even warrant a Wikipedia page. In comparison, Islamophobia has both a lengthy entry on Wikipedia and a whole clout of literature surrounding it; likewise, academia intensely studies anti-Semitism and its manifestations throughout history.
The lack of academic terminology and interest regarding anti-Christianity isn’t due to a lack of material; Christians are heavily persecuted internationally. Additionally, in America, they bear the brunt of attacks from atheists, members of other religions and many liberals. Additionally, universities often create a stigmatization around the religion, enabling and furthering a growing apathy.
protesting Islamophobia and anti-Semitism while degrading Christianity is damaging and oppressive.
This issue has had major policy implications towards the Christian body on campus. In 2011, Vanderbilt controversially required faith groups to admit non-believers into leadership positions, leading many campus Christian groups to give up their university affiliation . To put the latter into context, Christianity, as with most religions, requires that a Christian lead the church, and Vanderbilt specifically put their policy at odds with this belief. While this was theoretically applied towards all belief-based groups on campus, this policy’s effects are much more severe towards Christianity, due to the culture of antagonism. Students are rightfully willing to protect Muslims, for instance, against harassment. Yet, that same mindset of diversity and tolerance somehow doesn’t extend towards the Christian community.
Luckily, I’ve not experienced much of this discrimination personally, yet many of my peers have. For many, they’ve encountered opposition to expressing their faith publicly, such as reading the Bible in Central Library or publicizing it through evangelism; there are often snide comments and remarks made, and no one stands up for them. This problem isn’t a typical one of aggressions and hate, but rather of complicity and double-standards. In anything, hypocrisy is flawed; in the realm of religion, protesting Islamophobia and anti-Semitism while degrading Christianity is damaging and oppressive.
When will we fix this issue? The solution won’t come solely from the administration; although a reversal of the previous decision would be appropriate, this article isn’t suggesting an endorsement of the administration for Christianity. Neither would it be to ban reasonable criticism of Christianity; although I don’t personally agree, those who stand against Christianity on various cultural and moral issues should be granted the same freedoms. Rather, in order to promote the equality that we supposedly stand for, it is up to every Vanderbilt student and faculty member to be conscientious of how they treat Christians and to stand up for what is just and fair.
Respect is not a zero-sum game. It is true that America does not persecute Christians as much as other religious minorities. Yet, a diminished amount of atrocity doesn’t justify hostility. As a campus, we can simultaneously combat other injustices while refraining from the same inflammatory and unprovoked attacks towards Christianity.