Do you remember those old vampire movies? The vampire would attack his victim, a chain with a cross would come into view and the vampire would flee in fear. The sign of the cross created great pain for any vampire who was in its presence.
Strangely, something like that has happened in western society. Somehow in the last few generations, religion has become something that needs to be hidden from view. It is not just an aggressive pushing of religious views that has become offensive, it is actually any public display of religion. Religious symbols have to be hidden and religious language has to be censored. The reason given is to prevent people from being offended. After all, as a society we have grown and we are now more sensitive toward people’s needs.
Really? I would believe that if society was just as sensitive about other areas of life. But the truth is that every other area of life has become more public. People are invited to be as public as they want about their sexuality, politics, culture, economic views and so on. It is only religion that needs to be hidden from view. Look at entertainment. Movies and music have pushed the boundaries of sexuality, becoming far more explicit in every way. Any time a Christian complains, cries of censorship and freedom of speech become very loud. If a person requested the same freedom for their religious ideas, they are seen as a bigot and as potentially dangerous. Has anyone ever wondered why?
I have a few ideas. I think that there are people who sincerely believe that religion is dangerous, much more dangerous than any other area of culture, and they believe that religion has to be suppressed for everyone’s safety. In a similar way, there are those who thought religion could have been educated away. There were those who predicted that religion would disappear with the advances in science and spread of education. Since that has not happened, they have tried to legislate it away or at least limit its public face.
Where did people ever get the idea that they have the right to freedom from exposure to religious ideas? I am not saying this as a Christian who wants non-Christians confronted with my beliefs. I say this as a person who is not and has never been offended by other religious ideas. When I encounter Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist symbols and traditions, I am not offended. In fact I find it very interesting and see it as an educational opportunity.
My plea to western society is to lose the vampire syndrome. You are not a vampire and you are not going to be hurt by seeing a cross (or any other religious symbol). Lose the sensitivity to being offended. Accept that there are people different from you and deal with it. Learn from other belief systems, don’t be afraid of them. Stop being so easily offended.