The persecution complex goes back to the roots of Christianity. It’s one of the few ideas an early follower would recognize from today’s Christianity. If memes are like genes, then the idea that Christianity is so dangerous to the status quo and must be stamped out is like the genome of a shark or a crocodile. It plays its role so well in its own proliferation that very little adaptation has been required regardless of changes to its environment. As far as the New Testament goes, it starts in what biblical scholars consider to be the earliest of the four Gospels:
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
And it goes on through the latest. Jesus liked the idea of being persecuted so much he got all hipster about it in John 15:18
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
This way of looking at things just never caught on with me. Even during my two or three months in church as an eleven year old it just sounded like the kind of whining you get from spoiled suburban teenagers. What’s so great about the world hating you? Isn’t that a sign that you’re being a jerk?
But thinking that you’re being persecuted is still very popular today. Even among adults. Jesus never grew out of it and neither did these two guys.
Art Robinson, seen here arguing on internet forums
Art Robinson ran against Pete DeFazio (D-OR) for Congress in 2010. I wouldn’t have known about him at all if it weren’t for this hilarious “interview” he did on Rachel Maddow’s show. Maddow “smeared” him by referring to things he wrote and said about how AIDS was created by the US government ala Jeremiah Wright. She was also very “sarcastic,” as long as sarcastic means critical which it does not. Robinson melted down publicly and lost his shit. He went on to also lose the election and lots of fun was had by all.
Last year, three of Robinson’s children were expelled from Oregon State University. They were all home-schooled, so it’s probably safe to assume they share their father’s winning personality and odd sort of selective intelligence.
Robinson, being the paranoid Bircher conspiracy nut he is, took to the internets to proclaim that the University was punishing his children for his political campaign against DeFazio. If true, this would kind of be like how God punished all of humanity for Eve’s political campaign against YHWH with the help of campaign coordinator Serpent. The University responded denying his allegations but could not disclose publicly why the students had been expelled because (emphasis mine):
Federal law prohibits institutions of higher education from discussing matters concerning our students with anyone other than the student himself or herself without the express consent of the student involved.
So the younger Robinsons could consent to let the school release the records so that all this could be discussed out in the open, but they didn’t. That’s not a slight against them. The fact that they have a crazy father shouldn’t compel them to release all their personal information. But it does make Art Robinson’s accusation ring pretty hallow unless he has further evidence to back up his accusations. Here is what he had to say about that:
“I don’t have definitive proof,” Robinson said. “That is what I believe.”
That raises the question of why he’d bother to go around believing something without any proof or evidence. But whatever, it’s the same approach he takes with climate science, AIDS, evolution, and pretty much any other scientific finding he doesn’t happen to like. If “the world” will hate him for it, Art Robinson will say it.
Coppedge insists the JPL should be building “a stairway to Heaven.”
Like Robinson, David Coppedge is a very devout Christian who’s managed to work his way up the ranks of a scientific institution. It’s not unheard of; but it just happens to be that such a thing as an evangelical Christian at the Jet Propulsion Lab is rare.
The rule that the most conservative Christian is going to be the most annoying, pushy preacher at work is not a rule that goes away at the JPL. Coppedge was wasting everyone’s time badgering everyone about creationism, his website and The Gays. Giving him a warning didn’t work. Demoting him didn’t work. So with the next round of budget cuts he was fired. Now with the help of the Discovery Institute’s legal team, he’s suing the JPL.
The trial is going on right now and it’s leaking out a bit into the mainstream press. The day before yesterday the LA Times took note of how a “religion expert” was denied expert witness status at the trial. Apparently this was necessary to figure out whether or not the creationism DVDs constituted religious harassment. Coppedge’s lawyers were trying to make the case that he wasn’t harassing anyone for their religious preferences because he was just advocating Intelligent Design, which they claim is not religious. But calling creationism “Intelligent Design” does not magically wipe away its religious nature. That’s already been settled in court. And even if that weren’t the case, is it OK to harass people at work with superstitious nonsense just because it happens to be non-religious?
To get past the mainstream press’ pretenses of balance and the Discovery Institute’s all-out propagandizing, The Sensuous Crumudgen is probably the best place to go for the details of the trial. The Panda’s Thumb also has an ongoing thread where you can expect to find some smart people analyzing this frivolous lawsuit and picking apart all the dishonesty that seems to stick to creationist lawyers like the stench of rat feces on Nick Nolte.
So for example one of the Panda’s Thumb commenters read through the tedious legal documents and found that the original demotion which spurred this lawsuit was basically symbolic. Coppedge’s pay wasn’t even cut. It was an embarrassing slap on the wrist in front of his co-workers. That’s all. That’s all it took to trigger Coppedge’s persecution complex to the point where he lawyered up.
I’ll try to update this case along with a few others I’ve covered recently when there’s an outcome.
So that’s pretty much where we’re at as far as the state of Christianity in America goes. Being religious means you can not be fired or expelled for any reason or else it’s a violation of your religious freedom. And this all during a legal climate where a narcoleptic patient working as a math teacher at a religious school was fired basically because the courts found that being a math teacher at a religious school makes you a minister.
What’s even crazier about all this is that all this alleged persecution is taking place in a country where 80% of the population is Christian and a grand total one member of Congress claims to be a nontheist. All this persecution Christians complain about is apparently coming from other Christians, which if you think about it makes all that Jesus-talk I quoted earlier sound like more of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But it’s not. Persecution doesn’t include everything bad that ever happens to anyone of faith. Getting burned at the stake for being a witch is persecution. Getting crucified? That’s persecution. And by crucifixion I don’t mean some vague metaphor for getting a D in biology; I mean getting nailed to a piece of wood and left out in the desert to slowly die a really fucking painful death from exposure. Art Robinson and David Coppedge aren’t martyrs. They’re living incredibly privileged lives and happen to have gotten called out for being jerks. And now we all have to listen to them cry about it.