Sitting down for a chat with a friend this week I came to realize how a lot of different groups are claiming minority status these days.
Reading from religiondispatches.org (http://www.religiondispatches.org/blog/mediaculture/2179/sarah_palin%3A_fox_news%E2%80%99_new_televangelist) I read their comments on how, through her new Fox News TV show Sarah Palin will
“ continue to portray herself as the embattled victim of a liberal, secular culture that ridicules God and country.”
In essence she is going to play the minority part in order to win sympathy and manipulate people into believing and supporting her cause. Within the same blog it was noted that televangelists do the same thing to fundraise money.
When I attended the Amahoro Gathering in Johannesburg, RSA last June there was a small group discussion time where we talked about the abuse of power and “underpower” in post-colonial Africa. Through some transparent conversation our group was able to candidly confess how we often either abused our “overpower” (when were in the position of power in a relationship) or our “underpower” (when we were in the minority position). We all noted how when we were in a state of underpower we would paint ourselves in such a way as to be presented as the victim and thus garner support for our cause through means of manipulating other’s emotional response to our situation.
This tactic is more widely used than I’ve ever noticed before.
Say, in the religion v. science debate. Reading through books by Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett or listening to friends that are atheist I notice how they feel like they are in the minority. This is the thrust of the Brights movement and why Dawkins may seem so vitriolic in his writing. The majority of the so called “New Atheists” are trying to gain support for their “belief” system (I tread on dangerous ground using that terminology). They feel that they are in the minority. They feel shut out and put out by the mass majority of conservative creationists that are constantly villifying them before the national press and in Sunday Schools across the USA.
However, I can’t help but hear the not-so-subtle whisper of the majority of my creationist and conservative acquaintances who feel the same about their camp. Talk to any one of these friends of mine and they will tell you that liberals are the majority, atheists rule academia and shut out religious adherents from the public square. Without talking to any of my friends you could easily go to the bookstore and read several editions on the fact that people who believe in God are in the minority these days and that we are ever so quickly being excluded from the key sectors of American culture. It seems that Christian conservatives are playing the victim as well.
So, as my buddy opined in our conversation the other day, “Who is the minority? Who is the majority?”
Ann Coulter will have you believe that the majority of America is liberal. Liberal pundits will respond that conservatives are in control. Liberal parents fear conservative brain washing and conservative households will home-school to prevent liberal education from poisoning their children’s minds.
I really don’t know who the minority is or who isn’t. All I know is that we must be diligent to not let minority manipulation sway our opinion, our money, our allegiance or our votes. We also need to be careful to not use minority rhetoric to poison our own speech.
We would all agree it is never okay to use our positions of power to gain further influence or abuse others.
So why don’t we stand up against those in the minority position (or faking the minority position) that use their own victimization to manipulate our opinions and responses?
The way of Christ is not about securing power through either feigned humility or real humility. The way of Christ is about true humility, which inevitably leads to vulnerability and humiliation. It is true that Christ is now in a position of power at the right hand of God, but it is not because he abused his minority – he suffered for it (Philippians 2:5-11). Let us instead have Christ’s mind among us and in place of using our minority status/majority status to gain influence treat others as if we were their servants. Because in reality we are kings and queens, we just have the opportunity to be servants. That’s a correct use of underpower/overpower. (See Luther’s On Christian Liberty for more on kings, queens and servants).