Madcap to the Right of Me, Patsy to the Left of Me

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I've jumped into a discussion with my fellow Facebook-ers... Facebook-ians... Facebook-sters... whatever we're called - in a group calling itself "Christians for Social Justice". I had mentioned the need for social justice within the field of Social Work, after which someone else also pointed out the need for social justice within the Church. He mentioned the Church's habit of emphasizing God's judgement of sexual sins, while a complete reading of the New Testament seemed to emphasize issues of poverty, oppression, and justice instead. My thoughts on the matter seemed to combine well as a blog post, so here it is. I look forward to hearing your thoughts:

I have also witnessed this kind of judging and stereotyping of people who commit 'hot button' (i.e. sexual) sins, while other sins within the Church are either winked at or just ignored, such as materialism, hoarding, pride, gossip, vanity, self-centredness, and recklessly wasting our wealth rather than sharing our resources to alleviate the desperate poverty that begs for compassion day in and day out around the world. It's clear that we need social justice in our churches as much as we do in the secular field of Social Work.

It frustrates me to no end when often times conservative Christians interpret anything 'social justice' as mere 'liberal propaganda' which is to be discounted and even scoffed at rather than trying to understand social justice from a Biblical perspective. North American political paradigms are imposed on Scripture, which ends up twisting and deforming Christ's teachings in the Gospels. "We can't talk about helping the poor - that would be too liberal. Didn't Jesus say that God helps those who help themselves?" No, Jesus didn't preach North American conservative capitalist Christianity - he preached a Truth about poverty, corruption, and oppression that transcends earthly politics. So why don't more Christians recognize what's going on? Are we too pitiful and self-serving to apply a little critical thought to how our lifestyle fails to line up with Scripture?

Meanwhile, in the secular world of Social Work everything Christian or 'religious' is interpreted as 'conservative propaganda' which is also to be discounted or scoffed at. I came to Social Work hoping to find a group of people who collectively value equality and respect, and stand against discrimination of any kind. Instead, I've run into one instance after another in which politically correct issues are supported over and over again while un-trendy issues are entirely ignored. I'm told that at my school Christians are the target of discriminatory remarks on the basis of their faith, and that Christians have reported discriminatory course material that stereotypes and vilifies their faith.

I experienced this personally when a video was shown in one of my classes that completely lambasted Christians because of their beliefs on homosexuality. Granted, this is a point of conflict with several religions with similar beliefs about homosexuality, and my problem isn't with the existence of this conflict of beliefs. My problem was with the extremely insulting, stereotyping, and oppressive way that the video portrayed all Christians, and that this was being promoted in a Master of Social Work classroom. I raised this point in a follow-up discussion in class, saying that social workers ought to take a stand against discrimination and oppression targeted toward EVERYONE. I stated that as social workers we ought to fight discrimination in peaceful ways rather than discriminatory ways. Otherwise, why are we in school for social justice at all, if we're doing nothing more than dishing out kindness here and oppression there, depending entirely on our whims and personal agendas? One girl argued against me, stating that this insulting treatment of Christians was a positive kind of therapy for the homosexual community. The rest of the class remained silent, including the professor. I received absolutely no support except from one woman who quietly patted me on the back and whispered "Well said," after the discussion had ended. So, rather than genuinely working toward a model of community that is based on inclusiveness, unity in diversity, and shared strengths and goals, those in Social Work who scream and yell about discrimination and oppression end up discriminating against and oppressing Christians as well as anyone else who's opinion is significantly different from their own.

My life's purpose seems to be speaking out about these inconsistencies in Christian groups as well as in secular Social Work settings. If I don't speak out about it all I think I'll implode, or self-destruct, or just go bananas.

At the same time, though, I constantly feel like I'm in the middle of a battlefield trying to talk sense into both sides, which can be a lonely and even dangerous place from time to time. You are not guaranteed any allies, nor are you safe from being attacked by either side. I wish I knew of people (current or historical figures) who've been in this position before - it would be helpful to know how they handled the antagonism, the accusations, the labelling they must have received, as I sometimes do, from parties in both camps.

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