I Did Not Know That… December 17, 2010

I Did Not Know That…

Christians suffer more religious persecution than anyone else.

Says the Pope.

“At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith,” the pontiff asserted, and cited Christian communities suffering from violence and intolerance particularly in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Holy Land.

“This situation is intolerable, since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity” as well as “a threat to security and peace,” Benedict wrote in one of the 17-page-long message’s strongest passages.

He appealed to authorities to “act promptly to end every injustice” against Christians.

No doubt there are places in the world where being an open Christian will hurt you. But no more so than being an atheist in parts of the Middle East.

In many parts of the world, Christians have it pretty damn good. At least they have it much better than just about every religious minority in the world.

I also learned today that I’m no longer a minority.

At least that’s what Chicago mayoral candidate, Pastor James Meeks, thinks:

… Meeks said then that minority business set-asides should only go to African American-owned businesses.

“The word ‘minority,’ from our standpoint, should mean ‘African American,'” Meeks said, according to video of the appearance on the FOX-TV Chicago web site. “I don’t think women, Asians and Hispanics should be able to use that title.”

You hear that?

That’s the sound votes make as they fly away to Meeks’ opponents. He’s already an underdog and he’s just digging himself deeper into a hole every time he opens his mouth.

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  • I agree with Meeks about women. They’re not a minority; there are women than men on this planet. Of course, regarding the others, he’s just an idiot.

  • James

    Aw, poor baby. I’d dig out my microscopic violin to play for him, but I lost it when I opened my balcony door and it flew away.

    Of course in some parts of the world where they aren’t the majority, they will potentially face persecution. Welcome to the club, Ratzy.

  • When a group that actively engages in persecution complains about being persecuted, I have a hard time caring.

    Also – is a minority just a smaller group of people than another group or can it also be a group of people that are unfairly treated as less valuable than another group? Because as of now, it’s legal in America for employers to pay women 70 cents for every dollar that a man makes. I’d say that given that, women are most certainly still within the parameters of minority status culturally, regardless of population size.

  • I have to share two comments from Shakesville correcting what the dope pope said:

    Fannie: “At present, [LGBT people and all women] are the group[s] which suffer m[uch] from persecution on account of [the Catholic Church.] Many Christians [participate in] daily affronts and often live in[ducing] fear [in LGBT people and women] because of the [Pope’s monopoly on] truth, their faith in Jesus Christ and their heartfelt plea [that equality laws violate their] religious freedom. This situation is unacceptable, since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity; furthermore, it is a threat to security and peace, and an obstacle to the achievement of authentic and integral human development.”

    And Mokele: “At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith,” said the Pope, sole monarch of the only country on Earth run solely by a religion, from his home in a gilded castle built upon wealth accumulated through centuries of wielding massive political influence throughout Europe and beyond.

    “The head of a worldwide organization which frequently deploys its massive accumulated wealth to fight against the rights of women and LBGTQI individuals went on to state that “A freedom which is hostile or indifferent to God becomes self-negating and does not guarantee full respect for others.”

  • Chris

    Hemant: have you thought about what you will complain about now that you are no longer a minority?

    Possibly relevant new word I found: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Querulant.

  • @Chris,

    We are all working to make our efforts no longer necessary. When we get there, it will be a good day.

  • Richard P.

    Wait a sec, since when does the pope have the authority to demand god quit testing his subjects? Aren’t they supposed to be celebrating in their suffering. The guy can’t even get this part right.

  • @Richard P.,
    Thank you, you gave me my laugh for the day…much needed.

  • Evil Paul

    Gotta give the Pope partial credit, though. Christians do indeed face persecution, and, unlike the American fundies he actually got the geography right: Asia, Africa, the Middle East & the Holy Land. Not South America, not Europe, and NOT NORTH AMERICA!

    BTW: Since when are the Holy Land and the Middle East two different places?

  • Cabal

    Pinkocommie is completely right here. Minority refers not to population size but to representation and cultural value. Pretty much EVERY demographic aside from the 21+ white, thin, uninjured, heterosexual male category deserves much more cultural value and ought to be considered (excuse the passive voice) a minority for political purposes or adjusting equality laws.

  • cat

    You know, the suffering of Christians in Africa is the result of western and African Christians. Christians make up 40% of Africans, Muslims 45%, and with the high concentration of Muslims in the region north of the Sahara (such as Egypt), most of subsaharan African countries have Christian majorities. There is anti-Christian sentiment in some areas, but there is also anti-muslim sentiment as well. Christians in Africa do more than their fair share of persecuting of others. As do Christians in the west. If you are going to say that anti-christian sentiment in the middle east counts, then you need to count anti-muslim sentiment in the US and western Europe.

    Also, excluding atheists, if you wanted to pick which religions are subjected to the harshest treatment, indigenous religions of colonized peoples would be at the very top.

    As to the minority business, Asians and Latinos are definitely racial minorites. Women aren’t a minority, numbers wise. Even if you were making the argument that the funds were to go to communities and groups who have been traditionally underrepresented in business ownership, such as black people, that would not explain excluding women or Latinos, nor all Asian groups (while Asians in general are not underrepresented in business ownership, this varies by specific ethnicity and by location).

  • JoshBA


    No need to go inventing terms 🙂 Women are not a minority. That does not mean they are not oppressed though.

  • While Christians do face persecution in the Middle East, the Pope totally lost me when he brought up the treatment of Christians in western countries.

    The thing these two stories have in common is that each person (the Pope and Meeks) only care about discrimination against one group of people and don’t care if it’s against anyone else.

    @Palaverer: Thanks for sharing and for the link. That is simultaneously hilarious, sad, and true.

  • Josh – asking a question isn’t reinventing a term. Pointing out that the mistreatment of women within American culture is “within the parameters of minority status culturally” isn’t a reinvention of a term either, I don’t think. Can you explain what you mean?

  • JoshBA

    pinkocommie – I didn’t mean to imply that you had. It was an—admittedly poor on reflection—attempt at an answer to “Also – is a minority just a smaller group of people than another group or can it also be a group of people that are unfairly treated as less valuable than another group?”

    I was trying to say “No. Women are not a minority.” I think minority should be reserved for either pure numerical evaluation of quantity, or at the most using it to reflect power differences. Though the latter doesn’t sit well with me for reason I can’t quite articulate.

    I don’t think that women can truly to be said to be of less cultural presence. They are, in American culture at least, devalued to be sure but IMO they are just as present. I also don’t think they can be considered a political minority either seeing as there are more women eligible to vote than men. They are underrepresented in government, it seems to me, mostly because women are both part of the culture of undervaluation of women and because women don’t generally vote for women just because they belong to the same I-have-no-Y club (I am sure there is also some small bit of “the man was the better candidate” going on, but not nearly enough to be an excuse).

  • Defining “minority” as something other than “not the majority” is, I think, what he means.

  • Just thought I’d add that according to Merriam-Webster (third listed definition), a minority is:

    “a part of a population differing from others in some characteristics and often subjected to differential treatment”

  • JoshBA, women are not just as present in our culture. The issue with Time magazine is the most current and apropos example I can offer. Men are far, far better represented in every facet of society with the exception of arenas that are considered exclusively feminine. Women are women; men are people.

    In regard to the term minority I don’t think the problem is that anyone wants to redefine it; rather I think we’re trying to define the intent of the usage of that term. It may be that a better word is needed. I myself prefer “marginalized groups.”

  • Kaylya

    He’s defining “minority” to mean “my group specifically even though we are quite large”.

    There’s probably a place for programs specifically targeted at African Americans (just like there are places for programs specifically targeted at latinos, or recent immigrants, etc), but you don’t need to horribly redefine the term “minority” to do that. There are almost as many black people as whites in Chicago anyways, and no one racial group is a majority.

    It may be true that, given some impartial judge, Christians are the ones who are most persecuted globally – simply because they make up the largest religious group, and because the “Christian” majority countries don’t tend to be as big into persecution of their minorities as the “Islamic” majority countries. On a per capita basis, however..

  • liz

    wouldn’t you consider women a minority in the business world? I would…

  • Bob

    Pastor Meeks …. when there’s a law forbidding Christians to enter the country and it stands for 60 years, you come talk to be about being a persecuted minority.

    Christ’s message – if you want to walk that path – isn’t about who the minority or majority is. You gonna talk the talk, walk the freakin’ walk.

  • Pseudonym

    Christianity is indeed the most persecuted religion on the planet by head count. That’s because it’s the largest religion on the planet by head count. More Christians live in fear of their lives and/or liberties than any other religious group.

    But Evil Paul is 100% correct: Almost exactly none of it is happening in North America. North Korea, on the other hand…

  • “No doubt there are places in the world where being an open Christian will hurt you. But no more so than being an atheist in parts of the Middle East.”

    But atheists aren’t a religious group… are they?

  • Erp

    As Pseudonym pointed out in absolute numbers Christians may be the most persecuted religious group because they are by far the largest religious group (even if admittedly quite a bit of the persecution is Christian on Christian). The most persecuted in relative numbers (i.e., the religious group with the greatest percentage in justified fear) is probably a group like the Bahai’is or Ahmadis.

    He really should have called for freedom for all to worship (or not) as they wish unless there are justified reasons (e.g., no human sacrifice, no refusing public health measures such as vaccines, no refusal to give their children an education, etc).

  • jolly

    Maybe he was just talking about Christian children being persecuted (by priests).

  • Stephen P

    @Nathan: an analysis of the population by car ownership must include a category for people who do not own any cars. Agreed?

    In the same way, although atheists are not religious, any subdivision of the population into religious groups must include a group for atheists.

  • The Bishop of Rome is living in a fantasy world. Maybe that was too obvious a comment.

  • Are you a minority? This clear and simple guide approved by Pastor James Meeks will help you out.

    If you are:
    White: No
    Male: No
    Female: No
    Gay: No
    Transgender: No
    Hispanic: No
    Native American: No
    Pacific Islander: No
    European: No
    Eastern European:
    Asian: No
    Indian: No
    Aborigine: No
    Atheist: No
    Christian: No
    Muslim: No
    Agnostic: No
    Buddist: No
    Wiccan: No
    Bahá’í: No
    Handicapped/Disabled: No
    Thin: No
    Tall: No
    Short: No
    Underweight: No
    Overweight: No
    African-American: Yes*

    *Barrack Obama doesn’t count by technicality as the president was born in Africa. This message has been brought to you by Pastor James Meeks

  • He has a point – Asians aren’t a minority. Neither are women. Asians make up something like 17% of the world population, while whites only comprise about 9%… oh, wait, that wasn’t what Meeks was getting at. Hmm. He’d better think this thing through a little better.

    Women still outnumber men, though, so maybe the business set-asides should only go to men.

  • The thing these two stories have in common is that each person (the Pope and Meeks) only care about discrimination against one group of people and don’t care if it’s against anyone else.

    Yeah, their own. And when you only consider what happens to those like you instead of those like you as well as those who differ from you, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

    Women are a minority in any arena you name except mothers and house spouses probably. Women may not be a minority of the population but they are a minority in almost any field except ones that have been traditionally women such as maids and child care providers. Get serious about being equally represented in business. Maybe if you count the secretaries. And, even in education, while they’re well represented as teachers how many administrators are women?

    Yeah, I had better opportunties than my mother and my daughter stands to make more than I did if she completes her education but even though we’ve come a long way, baby, we’ve still a long, long way to go.

    Really hope this does cause Meeks the election.

    And it’s kind of hard for me to care what a Nazi says about persecution. Frankly, as head of the Catholic church (which as others have pointed out persecutes many people) who was deeply involved in covering up for pedophile preists, that leopard hasn’t changed his spots since his teens. He took the career route of the Church because the Nazis lost World War II; that’s all.

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