Your Faith Makes You A Bigot

Thoughts on stereotypes and closeted Christianity.

I mentioned last week that I recently relocated to the East Coast. I moved from the Bay Area, CA. While living in the Silicon Valley, I carried a poorly-guarded though still anxiety-producing secret. The secret? I’m Christian.

Yes, I believe in a “magic man in the sky who made everyone and everything.” I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. The whole thing.

The reason I don’t talk about my faith unless directly asked is because I’ve feared the stigma associated with Christianity. I don’t identify with most Christian stereotypes. I’m not part of that small yet loud subset that shouts fire and brimstone at passersby in the heart of downtown on a Friday night (though I’ve been the awkward college student avoiding eye contact as I enter a club). I’m not anti-science, anti-LGBTQ+, or anti-higher ed. I’m a Christian, but, but, but

I’ve minimized God to make others comfortable enough times in my life I deserve a trophy. I’ve been one foot in and one foot out.

Enough.

Here’s the thing: my faith has gotten me through a lot. I had a very unstable childhood. The adults in my life proved early on that they were unreliable. And when I couldn’t count on anyone else, God was there. God was the shoulder I cried on. God got me through. And you don’t have to believe in Him, but I do. And that should be okay.

My faith shouldn’t be something I feel shame around.

And yet…

Let’s talk about vocal minorities for a bit. A vocal minority is a small portion of a group that makes itself heard, often at the expense of the rest of the group. We see examples of vocal minorities all the time in politics, religions, and culture. Alt-right groups that promote racial violence can create the false illusion that every individual who leans right on the political spectrum is racist. Constant coverage of ISIS in mainstream media can make people wrongly conflate terrorists with the average practitioner of Islam. Vegans who brag at parties might make you believe all herbivores are that self-aggrandizing (trust me, there are many more chill vegans out there than those idiots knocking back PBR and talking about enlightenment). Again and again, we have disproportionate coverage of one minor portion of the group which amplifies itself to become the understanding of the entire group.

When we fail to grasp that the minority, however loud, is not representative of the whole, we come away with harmful stereotypes that further alienate us from one another. We see harsh differences drawn out in black and white instead of the subtleties and nuances that make each person unique and each culture a medley of those that came before it.

If I say “Christian,” you may have a visceral response to that term. You may have experienced hate from a church or religious relative. You may have only seen what’s represented on clips of televangelists or heard what your ultra-woke college professor had to say on the matter. You might even be Christian as well and still associate negative press with your own faith. With all the snap judgements made about Christianity, I’m not surprised I’ve felt uncomfortable being identified as part of the group.

Now, let’s acknowledge something vital to this discourse: Christians have A LOT of privilege. The U.S. has favored Protestant Christians since its founding. We run the risk of both ignorance and callousness if we fail to acknowledge that fact. Even with the ever-rising negative representation of Christianity, in America we have not seen true Christian persecution. Christians are not an oppressed group and I by no means consider a lack of understanding of my faith the same as the oppression minority faith groups have experienced. I’m not an ass.

But it’s interesting.

It’s made me change my behavior.

What is going on with this whole faith thing? If Christians aren’t an oppressed group, why complain? Why rant?

*Sighs in exhausted*

Stereotypes are damaging whether positive or negative.

Read that again for emphasis: stereotypes are damaging whether positive or negative. When we project stereotypes onto someone — be it that Asians are good at math or African Americans are thugs or Christians think everyone will burn in hell — we limit that individual’s humanity. We don’t allow for them to be something different. What happens if you’re really bad at numbers, but all your friends assume you should be a math genius? What does that do to someone’s self-esteem? What if you work hard all your life and end up in a high-income career only to be followed around in a store? What happens if being honest about your faith means your co-workers will consider you bigoted?

It’s not fun, is it? And that’s the point. Stop lumping everyone together. Stop building your entire understanding based on an assumption, a bad exchange, or what you’ve seen on TV. We’re all guilty of it and we all could grow to be better. We can make room for nuance. For contradiction. We can allow people to show us who they are before we shove our understanding of their identities down their throats.

I love God. I believe that this love for God is what makes me care about other people. It’s what makes me want to do good in the world. Do I think belief in God is required for someone to be a good person? Absolutely not. The Bible even says you can do good deeds and still not actually be Christian — it’s a faith thing (Ephesians 2:8–9, if you’re curious). But for me, personally, my faith is why I’ve made it this far. It’s why I’ve withstood where others have crumbled. It’s the only reason I’m alive today. Literally.

But my faith is mine. I’m not forcing it upon you. Or anyone. I’m just moving through the world trying to leave everyone I meet feeling a little more loved and a little less alone.

I hope that you’re allowed space. I hope you’re allowed to be more than any one label. And if you’re Christian, I hope you can feel comfortable enough to let people know that.

Because Lord knows we’ve got enough whackjobs misrepresenting us out there, we could use a spotlight on the boring, normal Christians too.

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Lux Anny

Lux Anny is a New York City raised writer currently based in Charlotte. She covers everything ranging from current events to self-discovery.