The other night, in one of my classes, I got the angriest I think I’ve ever been in my entire life. I’m not an angry person, but I was about to explode because of the injustice and unfairness of what happened.
A little background…I go to a public university and was fully prepared for the education I’ve received in its English department. We’ve discussed touchy subjects on any level in almost every class I’ve taken in the department. We’ve talked about racism, politics, euthanasia, abortion, birth control, educationism, the death penalty, political upheaval, inequality, gender stereotypes, sexism, rape, gay marriage, and pretty much anything you can think of that’s controversial. And don’t get me wrong, I love discussing these things and learning more about the world I’ve grown up in and the world my generation is forming for the future.
But to this incident that occurred… I was in my night class, a 400-level class that doubles as a graduate class. And I adore the class. Please don’t let anything I say convince you that I don’t adore the class. I look forward to it every week. Our class is composed of the most diversified group of people I’ve ever been in class with. As we discussed the other day, we are Socialists, Buddhists, Republicans, Democrats, Caucasian, Indian, Latino/a, Swedish, gay, straight, racist, homophobic, etc. etc.. My teacher from the first day of class told us all that she’s a racist and a lesbian, and made sure that we all knew we had signed up to be in an open, accepting class when we signed up. We’re studying American literature, and our discussions have been the most eye-opening of my college career to this point.
There’s a woman in my class with whom I do not get along; we’ll call her Betty for anonymity’s sake. Betty is a graduate student who obviously has faced diversity and adversity in her life because of her race and gender. And in response to this, she has felt the need (in previous classes) to bring to light when others have been unintentionally offensive – either towards her or perhaps towards someone else.
When it comes to English classes, I have up to this point understood where she is coming from. At times it seemed her comments were a little bit of a stretch, taking offense at things that seemed irrelevant from my perspective, but every time I thought that, I told myself that I hadn’t walked in her shoes or lived her life, so I shouldn’t be the one to decide what offended her or not.
Yet during our class break last night, my teacher started talking to a couple of students about her upbringing, and how she had attended a liberal Catholic grade school in California. She was explaining her experience with Catholicism when she was young, and she treated it very respectfully even while admitting that she was no longer Catholic. Betty took this opportunity to practically POUNCE on Catholicism. I won’t go into detail, because even thinking about it right now makes my hands shake with righteous anger, but she began bashing her experience at Catholic school and how much she “hated” Catholicism and everything it stood for.
As she was talking, the entire class became focused on her, and soon enough her words developed into a Catholic-bashing party. I’m not kidding – for about 10 solid minutes, our class traded horror stories of being involved with Catholicism and were very, very offensive to me (and to another Catholic guy who’s in my class). They ridiculed Catholicism, and no one blinked an eye.
I couldn’t believe it! Betty was a woman who had previously stood out to the class as someone who stood up for those being persecuted. She defended herself for many of her own beliefs, and multiple times in the past weeks had stopped discussion in the class to point out an offense that someone might be taking. Yet there she was, crying out to the class about how she had been mistreated, and practically egging everyone on to do the same to a group of people.
I couldn’t understand it. Now, I understand that she is perfectly entitled to her own opinion. I’m not assuming that everyone has had wonderful experiences with the Catholic Church – we are a flawed, human institution that has made many, many mistakes. But to hear her blatantly making fun of Catholicism as insensitively as she was struck me deeply – not only her, but my entire class.
I didn’t understand how everyone could sit there in such an “open” environment and not one single comment was made on how much they were offending Catholics. We’ve spent the last six weeks discussing the different forms of oppression and hatred that groups experienced in the United States history, but nah, making fun of Catholicism is fine, nobody who is intelligent enough to be in English classes could possibly still believe in that…stuff. It was incredibly frustrating and incredibly hypocritical.
UGH. I sat there in disbelief as the conversation continued. As soon as I had controlled my righteous anger to formulate some sort of response, we had to start class again, so the subject was dropped.
I’m sure my experience isn’t unique. I know that Christianity gets made fun of all the time – even at a time when being politically correct is one of the top concerns of anyone in academia or politics. Take, for example, Nicki Minaj’s most recent appearance at the Grammy’s that was supposed to be a Versace nun accompanied by a pope. What do you think the media did? Absolutely NOTHING. No, it’s perfectly fine to make fun of Christianity, didn’t you know, Hannah? Okay, I’m sorry but NO. If Nicki had shown up in a hijab, brandishing a gun and a Koran, the media would be absolutely up in arms at such an offensive costume – as they very well should be. Heck, I’m not Islamic, but I would have been offended at that.
As Christians, we strive to be accepting and loving towards people of all race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, culture, and background because Jesus loved everyone – He got made fun of for associating with people of a different background than him, but did He care? Nah, man. We try to do the same – not perfectly, but we try.
Betty, I’m sorry you had a bad experience with the Catholic church. I can’t fix whatever damage you’ve acquired from it, but I can apologize. I just hope that someday in the future, you will see that making fun of something that seems unaccepted or unbelieved may be what all discrimination has been from the beginning of time, and that you’ll try to change your behavior to affect that. I’m praying for you.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, remember that it has hated Me first.”